by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministries

Learning to let go of our notions of how things should be and finding freedom to work with things as they are will bring us peace and freedom.  Believe that God is at work in every person, in every situation, and trust God's promise to bring new life out of that which we had assumed was dead.
                            Br. David Vryhof

I found the above in my email box on Friday, November 18th. I enrolled in the Society for St. John the Evangelist' series Brother Give Us the Word which means I receive an email daily with a word to consider and a small reflection on the word from one the brothers. I find the word "trust" and the thoughts Brother David shares very comforting at this time in our country. "...God is at work in every person, in every situation..." Yes. God is at work. God has not forgotten us. God is still at work in the world. As a result, I can trust that life and love will never end.

I also find this word and quote very powerful as we begin our Advent journey to the cradle in Bethlehem. At Holy Comforter we recognize four spiritual gifts during the four weeks of Advent. They are Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. All four are important and we could spend a year, not only a week, studying and contemplating each one. However, thanks to Brother David, I think trust might be the spiritual gift we need first. Before we can receive the wonder of Hope, the quiet of Peace, the thrill of Joy, and the romance of Love, we need to trust. Trust that God is still alive, at work, and in motion in all of creation today, not just two thousand years ago. It is true that, during Advent we prepare for the Incarnation of God at Christmas; however, that preparation is not simply for a celebration of an event from long ago. We are not only recalling the Incarnation of God, we are also remembering it in ourselves today. Such remembering asks for us to trust. Trust that God is in fact still in love with creation and humanity. When we trust, we let go of our small narrow view and are better able to see the vastness of God's desire for us all.
It can be challenging to trust, especially for those of us who are used to being in charge or for those of us impatient to see God fully at work. Is God really at work in the world? Does God really know what God is up to? Will I recognize it if God is? Will God be born once again? Can God's love bring us back into community and relationship with one another? Are Hope, Peace, Joy and Love possible at all right now? If these are the questions you hold right now or if you have others like these, bring them along the journey this Advent season. Place them on the altar on Sunday. Open your hands at the Eucharist and let go. Receive at least a small bite and a simple sip that can nourish the trust within your heart. With a trusting heart and soul, the gifts of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love will be more easily recognized, received, and passed to another.

Below are links to five different tools for your consideration this season. The first is a link to The Society of Saint John the Evangelist's website. You, too, may enjoy receiving their emails. The second is a link to Richard Rohr's site. He also offers daily reflections that are thought provoking and powerful. The third is a booklet I created for you to use in your personal or family prayers around you Advent wreath. The last two, Vibrant Faith@Home and Heath's Chapel Pinterest Board offer crafts and activities for families to do to enhance the lessons of Advent and Christmas at home. I hope these tools are helpful.

May the manger of your heart be bedded with trust so that Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love may be incarnated in you this Christmas.

Advent blessings,