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  • “Blue - For Hope”

    Feeling a little blue these days? Many of us are, I think. I was on a Zoom call recently with a friend in the States, who was surprised to see that it was getting dark outside the church about 4:00 PM. “Just wait,” I told him; “we’re still a month away from the solstice!” A lot of us find it hard to keep our spirits up, as the darkness deepens into winter.

    This year, it seems even darker than usual. Depending where you live, you might have been confined to your home, more or less, for many months already. Even if not, the province’s current regulations are keeping us all closer to home than usual, isolated from our extended family members and masked whenever we do venture out. Even if we ourselves haven’t caught the virus, many of us know people who have. Its shadow follows us everywhere.

    How are we doing here at Grace? Well…. On the one hand, we’ve been blessed in so many ways by God’s gracious goodness. I know the Internet isn’t available to everyone, but the ability to participate in worship “live” on Sunday mornings through YouTube is an marvelous lifeline that’s keeping most of us connected to the Lord. Weekly Grace Notes, these quarterly issues of The Grace Vine, and other communication pieces zoom out from the church into almost 200 email inboxes on a regular basis. And speaking of Zoom, quite a few of our groups have started holding online meetings of many kinds—confirmation classes, Bible studies, council meetings, voters meetings, and even (most recently) an LWML meeting that was attended by 13, some of whom using Zoom for the very first time!

    On the other hand, though, we’ve had our share of “blue” moments here at Grace as well. A number of our beloved are suffering from major illnesses. Some have lost loved ones. Others moved away. A few have died… And even in terms of our ability to stay connected, computer technology can’t replace the warmth and vitality of personal contact. How long is it going to be, anyway, before we can worship here together in person?

    Thankfully, though, all of this blueness is more than matched by a different blue—not the gloomy blue of the world we live in at the moment, but the hopeful blue of Advent. As you’ve probably noticed, the linens, banners, and Advent candles in the church are all blue in colour these days, but do you know why? It’s a rich and deep shade of blue that’s intended to renew our hope, as we wait with eager expectation for our King to come. Yes, Jesus already came into this world once, and that’s part of what Advent is about, preparing to remember and celebrate his birth. And yes again, Advent is also about Jesus’s second coming, when he will gather us all together into the fullness of his kingdom. Those are the two “comings” we’re probably the most familiar with, because they’re both firmly rooted in history. The Saviour who came long ago in the flesh at Bethlehem, will certainly come again with all of his angels in glory!

    But that’s not all: Jesus also comes to us now, renewing out hope into the midst of all gloom. How? Through his Word, as we hear it and take it to heart. Through his Supper, as we gather—whenever we can—to receive it. Through the promise of our Baptism, as we remember that we belong to him, come what may—and to one another too, within the family of his church. Whenever we do these things, Jesus comes to be with us, forgiving our sin, refreshing our hope, lightening our load, brightening our prospects. “Behold,” he told his disciples, “I am with you always—even to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

    Still feeling blue? Well, maybe! We’re going through a severely disorienting time right now, both individually and collectively, with challenges aplenty. It’s natural to feel at least a little bit down (and sometimes much more than that) as we look out into a world of such uncertainty. But that dark and discouraging blueness has already been overcome by the rich and royal blue of Advent—the promise of a King who came, and will come, and in the meantime comes to us time and time again to restore our hope. As we sing in one of our oldest and best-loved Advent hymns:

    O come, O come, Emmanuel,

    And ransom captive Israel

    That mourns in lonely exile here

    Until the Son of God appear.

    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

    Shall come to thee, O Israel!

     

    O come, Thou Dayspring from on high

    And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;

    Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

    And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

    Shall come to thee, O Israel! 

    (Lutheran Service Book 357)

    Pastor Steve Chambers

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