Advent and A Way Forward

December 19, 2018

by Mary Brown

On the first Sunday of Advent, we lit a candle for Christ our Hope
.
 
But I wasn’t feeling very hopeful.  
 
This fall, I attended two day-long meetings about General Conference 2019.  I got overviews of the three plans proposed by the Commission on the Way Forward.  I heard details on the One Church Plan recommended by the Council of Bishops.  We discussed ways to facilitate healthy conversations about the hot-button topic of human sexuality in our local churches.  
 
All that good information really got my gears turning…
 
…and then spinning out of control…
 
…and then grinding to a halt.  
 
I was overwhelmed.  I didn’t want to facilitate any conversations… I wanted to hide from them.  Couldn’t I just bury my head in the metaphorical sand until February 27?
 
 
On the second Sunday of Advent, we lit a candle for Christ our Way.
 
And a Way is exactly what we need, isn’t it?
 
With much reluctance, I decided that I couldn’t hide any more.  So I downloaded the report from the Commission.  I sat down with my coffee cup half-full but my outlook half-empty.  I began to read.
 
I felt a flicker of hope.  
 
What I found in reading the Report wasn’t perfection; there are certainly issues.  Neither did I find a unified front; it says right on page 1 that the Commission didn’t agree on everything.  But I did see the beginnings of a way.  I discovered a careful and determined process.  I realized that some of my concerns were half-truths that have circulated as rumors. I found some creative possibilities for how we might live together with a divisive issue.  
 
There is a way forward.  
 
It probably won’t come exactly as presented in one of the three plans.
 
But most certainly there is a Way.
 
 
On the third Sunday of Advent, we lit a candle for Christ our Joy.
 
Joy, you know, is different than happiness.  
 
Happiness is circumstantial:  it’s 70 degrees and sunny and no one in my church is upset, so I’m happy. 
 
Joy rises above circumstance.  Joy believes in a Way, and that Way fuels our hope.
 
 
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we will light a candle for Christ our Peace.
 
The days are counting down to Christmas:  Emmanuel, God is with us!
 
The days are counting down to General Conference: Emmanuel, God is with us!
 
And God is with us.  May God bring us all the hope and way and joy and peace that we need for the season ahead.
 
Amen.