This year has not been an easy year. It started with my parents managing to look after themselves in their own apartment (with local support), and our being able to FaceTime with them on a fairly regular basis where at times it felt like you were in the same room together. It ends with them both having passed away within 7 months of each other after almost 69 years of marriage and our anticipating our first Christmas without them.
I occasionally find myself thinking about something I'm dealing with or experiencing and how I could talk to mum and dad about that when we next connect. But then immediately realize that that opportunity is no longer available to me. Our weekly conversation, that at times felt slightly stilted and superficial, even at times an inconvenience when we were busy with things but we only had a small window to connect due to the 8-hour time difference, is now something I miss terribly perhaps because, as far as this life is concerned, it is gone forever.
Mine, of course, is not a unique experience but one many people face and which can feel even more acute at this time of year. This Sunday will be our service of carols, candles and amateur dramatics! It is the final week of Advent, a season in which we ponder the significance and our preparation for the return of Jesus.
From the earliest days of the Church, the followers of Jesus had to learn to live without his physical presence with them, just the legacy of his life lived before them, his teachings which he left with them and the experience of the Spirit to empower them to be faithful to his parting commission. He had told them not to be preoccupied with the timing of his return (after all he didn't even know when it would happen, only the Father), but rather he was more concerned with what he would find when he did return, and how the gift of the Holy Spirit had born fruit in their lives.
When Peter writes about the Day of the Lord in his second letter, his concern is primarily about the kind of people we are to become, especially as it relates to our purpose in life, the things we prioritize and focus upon, but also the manner in which we live. To be ready for his return means living holy lives, set apart for His purpose, and seeking to grow into his likeness in increasing measure.
God's grace is not a static thing but represents the dynamic of his generosity towards us whereby we are gifted and empowered to follow the very pattern of his life in greater and greater measure. We are all a product of the generations of our natural families stretching back over the years. There is tremendous diversity in all of this, as well as good and bad.
As I spent time this past U.S. Thanksgiving with my own family of children and grandchildren, I was more aware of the place Carol and I hold in that family and how they are something of a natural extension of who we are. Of course, they are also more than that too because of spouses and partners. But in addition, our "marriage" to God, the uniting of the human and the Godly expands the horizons and possibilities even further such that all things become possible in Christ Jesus.
There was an amazing sense of wonder and richness about the simple reality of a family being together around a meal table. I believe with all my heart that new horizons and new possibilities are possible for the family of Jericho Road because of Jesus and the Spirit who calls us to Kingdom adventure until the King comes again to claim his bride.My prayer is for us all to grow in grace and in the knowledge (intimate, fruit-bearing relationship) of our Lord Jesus. May this Christmas season be especially significant for you and your family, for us as a family together, and for those who will come to know him through our lives lived in holiness and godliness in 2023.
Love and Blessings,