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The End Before the Beginning

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”     —from Luke 23:33-43

by The Rev Beth Knowlton on November 16, 2022

This last Sunday of Pentecost is always a bit jarring to me. I would hope we might end the liturgical year on a nicer note than Luke’s account of the crucifixion. As we prepare to enter the freneticism of the holidays, a calming pastoral scene might help me disconnect from the stresses and strains of this world. But as I have reflected on the state of our world, an invitation to look for a Kingdom of truth constituted around the person of Jesus Christ feels more powerful than any image of avoidance or escape. It is an image of Jesus set within all that we are struggling with, assuring us of his presence, that provides real hope and sustenance. It is the truth that allows us to see the world as it really is, yet not be trapped in the grips of despair.
 
In the Rector’s Forum this fall, we’ve been reflecting on what it means to be people of hope in a world that frequently calls us to despair. If you haven’t had a chance to join us, you can find the recordings here. Using Walter Brueggemann’s Gospel of Hope, we have encountered themes of scarcity versus abundance, anxiety versus freedom, and love of neighbor, to name a few. As we’ve gathered to look at these simple truths of our faith, we’ve also wrestled together with how vital community is to ensure our own fidelity.
 
A number of years ago one of my senior wardens said, “Beth always preaches and talks about community.” I had not thought of it in that way before, but it is a deep truth of our faith. We cannot be the people we are called to be without the support and accountability of community. When we are celebrating, community expands the party. When we are in distress, community is that which sustains and supports us. It requires vulnerability on our part, because we need to share where we really are on the journey to find these gifts available to us.
 
Advent is always a simultaneous invitation to await the birth of the baby while we claim the return of the risen One. Which invitation is most prominent for you this year? Do you need the fragility and vulnerability of the baby? Or the strength of the return of the Risen One? Or both? Regardless, I hope you will intentionally seek community as part of your Advent season. We have many ways for you to connect: through service, fellowship, a special music offering, or a deepening of your prayer. Join us, and invite a friend! 

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