10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 NRSV)
Beloveds, grace and peace to you in the name of the One who is to come. Amen.
Have you ever wondered why the angels begin their conversations with “do not be afraid”? Western depictions of angels have long presented them as very human looking, but with wings, a halo, and surrounded by blinding light. Not all that scary, if we think about it. However, ancient Middle Eastern depictions of angels show them as decidedly not human. They almost look like a creature from the 90s Nickelodeon TV show “Ah! Real Monsters”. Biblical angels ought to be portrayed as a variety of very inhuman creatures—often multiple animals in one creature, and with multiple sets of wings. It’s no wonder God’s messengers had to preface their encounters with, “Do not be afraid!”
And yet, knowing how we might react to an encounter with a Godly messenger, God’s heavenly servants seek to soften the interaction, to help us find our balance when their mere presence would immediately throw us off. That regained balance is often temporary, because what happens next disrupts everything God’s people thought they knew to expect.
During Advent, God invites us into the known-unknown. Most of us are already familiar with the rhythms of Advent—the Advent wreath lighting on Sundays, blue paraments & vestments, Christmas caroling, Sunday school kids’ program, midweek services. Yet each year, and maybe this year especially, God sends us messengers to remind us “do not be afraid! I bring you tidings of great joy.” Great joy, in 2020? Great joy, amidst death and loss and loneliness? Great joy, when we cannot safely gather together for worship and holiday meals?
Yes, says God, yes. Great joy. It is great joy that we remember the One Who Is Promised, the One Who Is To Come, Immanuel. God with you—ME with you!
God’s great joy does not mean we cannot grieve or lament—these are biblical practices that we too are invited into—but rather that our griefs and laments are heard, sustained, and transformed by God’s wondrous love. By a baby, God’s own self, sent to us. To be with us. To know us and love us, to comfort and guide us.
O come o come Emmanuel—o come o come, God with us. We may be afraid, but we know you will send your messengers. We know the One for whom we wait. And we know you will upend everything we thought we knew. O come o come Emmanuel.
P.S. The Blue Christmas service noted in this month’s calendar is for us to make space to acknowledge the grief, loneliness, and blue-ness we can feel this time of year. God meets us in all our less-than-shiny feelings. We hope you will join us for this special service.
- Tree Sales Volunteers: THANK YOU to everyone who stepped up and helped out. We were wonderfully busy during our 3 days, and it took every single one of you to help make it happen. If you need a reminder about why we asked folks outside of H2H to help this year, please touch base with Pr Jenna.
- Zoom zoom, everywhere you look it’s Zoom! Did you know that if you have an internet capable device that doesn’t have a webcam, you can still join live Zoom gatherings (like worship, the Advent midweek service, and bible study). And, if you don’t have internet access or internet-capable devices, you can call into every Zoom meeting! All our gatherings have dial-in options. If you’d like help with this, please contact the church office and we’ll get you partnered with someone who can help you sort it out.
- Now that we are fully doing live Zoom worship on Sundays, we will not be pre-posting the services. Worship services will still be recorded and posted on YouTube, but it will now generally be by Sunday afternoons. Anita will send out the link on Mondays, but you can always go to our YouTube channel if you’d like it ASAP (search YouTube.com for “St. Andrew Lutheran Church Mundelein”—our channel is the first search result).
- Bible study is moving to Wednesday each week. We will still gather at 11:30 am so that those folks who take a lunch break are able to join us. You are welcome to eat while we meet! The Zoom link remains the same, and you can also call in. Pr Jenna (she/her) is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. We will use our Advent devotional for our jumping off point. Please let us know if you need a hard copy, and the best way to get it. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86863678432?pwd=R29OL3d3bTVrdkxCa1haY0dRM3pWQT09
Meeting ID: 868 6367 8432
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