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.