Come, and you will see: An Advent message
November 9, 2022 by Joseph Moore
“Come, and you will see…” John 1:39
Many of you are reading this having made your way through another stewardship season and dedication Sunday. Some of you are energized by a hopeful and positive congregational response. Others of us are feeling anxious and defeated because, by all indications, difficult ministry decisions are going to have to be made in the months ahead. All of us find ourselves at the beginning of another Advent with its mix of joy and seemingly endless demands.
In my work at the Presbyterian Foundation, I have the privilege of walking with pastors and church leaders in all sorts of congregations. Some are vibrant, others are struggling. All of them are full of faithful and loving people who want the very best for their churches. These congregations long for dynamic youth programs and overflowing worship services.
Yet, Advent can be a season of the church year when the distance between our hopes and the reality of our situations seems enormous. Many of us worship in churches where there aren’t enough children for the annual Christmas program, we serve in places where even Christmas Eve isn’t as crowded as it used to be. And many of us feel like the Church is in crisis.
Crisis is a word I admit to having used when describing the state of many of our churches. It is a fair and accurate descriptor. You know this all too well…things are tough out there. It’s easy to focus on the scarcity of resources, people, and energy. These are real concerns, and it feels like a crisis. Yet, if Advent says anything to the world it reminds us that God does God’s best work in the midst of the darkness. I’ve been wondering if maybe Advent is an invitation out of crisis and into adventure!
The explorer and psychotherapist Bertrand Picard often said, “An Adventure is a crisis that you accept. A crisis is a possible adventure that you refuse, for fear of losing control.” (New Yorker magazine, October 2022) Just look at the cast of characters in the Christmas story: A homeless baby born in a barn. Teenaged parents. Blue collar sheep herders. Foreign astrologists. Murderous kings.
That wild group of folks surely looks like a crisis in the making. But, add in a few angels and the movement of the God of the universe, and all the sudden a crisis becomes an adventure. Two thousand years later, it is an adventure to which we are still invited to participate.
It's worth noting that Adventure and Advent share the same root. Both point to an arrival or an appearance of something. Adventure and Advent as ‘a happening.’ All of us will create and participate in worship services that move us toward The Happening on Christmas Morning. And the truth is the same angels, the same God of the universe that transformed the first Christmas story from a crisis into an adventure is the same God that invites us to ‘Come’…and then promises ‘that we will see’ (John 1:39).
Come…peer over the manger into the face of a God who came as a child. Come…focus on the resources that you do have as a church. Come…celebrate your past ministry without making it an idol.
Come…and you will see. You will see that God is still God, even if your congregation is struggling. You will see that God is the business of taking small and struggling things and using them to change the world. You will see that God is in the business of making all things new.
In this new church year we are all invited to Come…so that we might choose to join the adventure to which God is calling.
Rev. Joseph Moore serves as the Ministry Relations Officer for the South Central Region. He works with congregations to create a culture of generosity, offers seminars and workshops, develops gifts and fundraising plans for ministries, and provides coaching to finance, stewardship and endowment committees. You can reach him at email@example.com.