Peace Amid the Messiness

posted Dec 2, 2022, 7:42 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Grace and peace to you in this season of Advent!


This week I was recalling a time when some of my clergy colleagues were sitting around a table discussing what we loved most about Christmas time. Some of my friends just rolled their eyes and groaned. Complaints of the superficiality of this season, the consumerism of Christmas, the hoop-la that begins as early as October, were plentiful, except for me. I playfully chided them, saying how much I loved “Baby Jesus time.” But my love of this season is not without a realistic and pragmatic sigh. With all of the sorrow-producing experiences we’ve had this year, for some of us individually, and indeed for our world, I recognize that sometimes it’s hard to preach hope and peace. It may ring hollow to grieving ears, especially for those who are experiencing a deep sense of loneliness in a season that is telling them to “be of good cheer.”


But still . . .


Jamie and I put up our Christmas tree on Monday, and as the smell of pine filled the house, and the lights on the tree shined through the front window for all passersby to witness, I remembered the reason to hope — Christ came into this world so that peace could finally be with us. This is why I feel so much joy at this time of year. Advent is a journey of waiting, watching, preparing, and groaning with expectation for our lives to be guided by a God who came all the way down to earth to show us how much we are loved. As Romans 8.22-24 reminds us, We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait . . .  For in hope we were saved.


As we continue our Advent journey toward that dusty stable with loud, smelly animals, let us wait for peace to be born in that messiness, and amid our world's messiness. Let us wait for peace, and act out the peace that surpasses all understanding, given to us in Christ Jesus. So, in the spirit of Advent, I’m going to continue to wait, expecting for God to show up and show us the way toward peace. But I’m not only going to wait for peace to happen because peace begins with us — it happens through the life we live, the words we use, and the worship we give. How are we going to wait and listen and pray and act?


As God used the prophets and people from old – Elizabeth, Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary – to bring about the life of a boy that would be the prophet of the Most High, and then a babe who would bring peace to the world, let us be peacemakers now, shining a light in the messy darkness. 


Come this Second Sunday of Advent at 10:30 AM in person or on Facebook live to celebrate the God of peace with your church family. Christine Dillaman, Angela Hank, and Lisa Van Savage will light our Advent Candle of Peace. Our Joyful Noise Adult Choir will be singing the anthem, “An Advent Credo.” I will be preaching from Isaiah 11.1-10 and my sermon title is Peace is Rising. In addition, we will gather around God’s table of welcome and grace as we celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. And after worship, come up the hill to the Education Building for our delicious First Sunday brunch as we extend the feast of the Lord’s table to another table. A free-will offering will be received to support the ministries of the church.


A gentle reminder: as this is flu season and Covid still lingers among us, if you are not feeling well, please stay home and watch church online. This is for the health of you and for the safety of others. Thank you for your cooperation.


Beloved, this Sunday is another Sabbath God has given us to live and to love. Let us not miss the opportunity to worship together and pray: Let there be peace, and may we be filled with expectation, as we celebrate the greatest gift of all: the One who brings hope, peace, joy, and love to our world.


In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

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