The theme we have selected for Advent this year is a prayer, a plea, an appeal, for God to come and be with us. Emmanuel (no matter how you spell it) means, “God with us.” So, this most recognizable of Advent entreaties is a simple call for God’s presence. It is a cry of hope, with more than a hint of desperation included.
For the dismissal at the end of our worship services, we hear the words, “Go in peace. Share God’s love.” And the congregation’s response is, “Thanks be to God.”
Being thankful seems such an important thing that we have a national holiday dedicated to gratitude! For many, it involves gastronomic excess, time off from work, and football. This holiday is our expression of something humans have been doing since the pre-winter harvest and hunt took place for the very first time, I imagine. We have our American version of the feast, but it is a universal impulse to give thanks for the bounty we humans receive regardless of clan, nationality, time, or place. “It is right to give our thanks and praise,” as our worship proclaims.
Revelation is a book of encouragement. John was writing to persecuted Christians under Roman rule - under the oppressive political powers of the day. John writes in code, in a way that the original audience would know exactly what he was talking about, but that the political powers would wonder, and they wouldn’t quite understand it.
The leaves have fallen with more intensity this past week. The Autumn Blaze Maple in my front yard has given up much of its colorful bounty. Soon, there will be one lone leaf left, defiantly hanging on against the frost and approach of dormancy. Then we will wait through the winter for buds to appear, for new growth to happen. It is not a sure thing.