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4th Sunday of Advent

Dear friends of St. John's,

As we rapidly approach the 4th week of Advent, I find my anticipation billowing as the joyful expectancy of Christ's coming perfumes the air. The lectionary readings for this Sunday amplify this for me. Reflecting on the Magnificat has always given me a deep sense of the profound beauty and hope of our faith, and as we continue to watch and wait for Christ's coming, Mary's words echo in my heart, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name."

I ask myself what it would look like for me to receive the news of Christ's coming with the humility and awe modeled by Mary. It occurs to me that in most cases, I'm better at giving than I am at receiving. Especially in a season aimed at being good and generous givers, there is very little emphasis on what it means to be a humble receiver of those gifts as well. But isn't that the ultimate invitation at Christmas? To receive the light of Christ's coming with humility, joy, and hope? Isn't it only when we receive this gift that we can give this light and joy and hope to others?  

This emphasis on giving and subsequent underemphasis on receiving is true this time of year not only in our broader culture, but also in churches too! We are currently in the midst of asking that you consider making a Christmas donation to the flowers and music for Christmas eve, or an end of the year gift to the church before the new calendar year begins, or a financial pledge for our 2022 budget. We do hope you'll consider one or a combination of these gifts, and yet, there's also another invitation. In the midst of this season, particularly this 4th week of Advent, it is to reflect on how we might receive anew the awe-inspiring gift of the incarnation of Christ among us, and how we are doing at noticing and receiving the daily gifts of grace that God brings to our lives.

The gift of community is one such gift that I often take for granted, but which we have ample opportunities this coming Sunday to engage. Don't forget that after church this Sunday the congregation is invited to return at 12pm to help the flower guild hang the Christmas greens and arrange the poinsettias as we prepare for the Christmas celebrations! Much more information on all of the happenings this season is available in the attached Sunday Paper, and we hope to see you for as much of it as we can.

Much love,