Can you believe that the advent season is here? It seems like we were just celebrating the resurrection. As we move into this last month of the year (and DECADE!) reflecting on all that we have done together has been such a blessing to my prayers. From protests to back-to-school drives, Pride, bible studies, and BuzzFeed articles, CPE Graduations, and Pronoun and Latinx Language Labs we have really pushed the envelope on what it means to not only do church but be church. Just a reminder to mark your calendars for the Worship and the Arts workshop (Dec 7), YASS Christmas Party (Dec 8), and be sure not to miss our 11pm Christmas Eve Candlelight Service (Dec 24). This church is growing in incredible ways and it is all because of your commitment to this community. This Thanksgiving I am holding you all in prayer and I am so grateful for each of you.
There is a reason that Andy Williams’, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” can be heard ringing from shops all over the country this week. The week of Thanksgiving leading right into Advent reminds us that the hope of Christmas is right around the corner. The air is crisp, the streets smell sweet with roasted nuts, and people start to cast vision of hope for their families and their many communities’ future. That is why this scripture is so wonderful. It reminds us that so many parts of our lives are built on hope. It reminds us about the mystery that has been promised to us once again through the impending birth of the Christ child. But it also reminds us that there is no time like now to build the kindom. Let’s read together this week’s scripture from the book of Matthew.
"No one knows that day and that hour-not the angels
of heaven, nor even the Only Begotten- only God.
"The coming of the Promised One will be just like Noah's
time. In the days before the flood, people were eating and
drinking, having relationships and getting married, right up
to the day Noah entered the ark. They were totally unconcerned until the flood came and destroyed them. So, it will be at the coming of the Promised One. Two people will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two people will be grinding meal; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore be vigilant! For you don't know the day your Savior is coming.
"Be sure of this: if the owner of the house had known
when the thief was coming, the owner would have kept a
watchful eye and not allowed the house to be broken into.
You must be prepared in the same way. The Promised One
is coming at the time you least expect. (Matt 24:36-44)
This text has historically been used to whip society into shape. To instill fear into the faith life of communities. “Watch out, Jesus is coming! Better get your life in gear.” It has inspired books and movies alike. But what are we afraid of? This world is already filled with sin and grief everywhere we look. Kids are in cages, people live in poverty, racism is abundant, Koalas are almost extinct, the Amazon burned for days, Nazi’s are open on Facebook! I don’t think we need scripture to tell us we need to be better. Just look out the window. So, how can we use this text to bring about change without fear? Well, what if we read this text not as something that should make us afraid, but bring us hope? Hope comes in the space between what we know and what is possible. So, as the scripture says if no one knows when Christ is coming, we get to live in hope for the kindom to come.
If no one knows when Christ is coming, we get to dream bigger for our environment.
If no one knows when Christ is coming, we have the opportunity of today to seek more justice boldly for immigrants and refugees.
If no one knows when Christ is coming, we get to stand up to racism and deconstruct systemic oppressive structures.
If no one knows when Christ is coming, we don’t have to be afraid, we get to be hopeful because we have another opportunity- every day we are given- to be our best Christ following selves.
Friends, no one knows if or when Christ is coming, or perhaps, we consistently overlook the living Christ among us. But what we do know is that each day we are given is a gift to start again. To live into the hope of the unknown like Mary, to seek justice like dutiful Joseph, or to love with limitless boundaries like Christ. The unknown timing of life is a gift of hope we need to lean into and a challenge that I am grateful to accept. I hope you will join me this Advent Season.
A quick prayer for your week: God, help me live with more hope than fear. Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
Dear Park People,
There was a lot of happy excitement in the Park Sunday school community this month. We had a wonderful time sharing food, fun, and toys, during our second annual Thanksgiving and Receiving Swap Meet Party. And the preparation for it was almost as absorbing as the party, itself, with the children working diligently on set-up and decorating. If you were in the Fellowship Hall on November 17th, it was impossible not to notice how beautiful the children made everything look!
The children also had a second workshop with former Interim Music Minister, Paul Vasile, who is continuing to teach them songs and movements, which they will be leading during the Pageant/Cantata service on December 22nd. Paul will be back with the children on December 8th, for a final review of the songs. They’re really looking forward to that. Paul has a great gift for engaging children, and they always enjoy the
time that they spend with him.
We are continuing to settle, happily, into our Children’s Ministry area in the Fellowship Hall. We have a new bookcase, filled with children’s bibles and Christian story books. The that we use, to separate the area from the rest of the Fellowship Hall, is now covered with their beautiful; inspiring art work. There are also plenty of interesting toys in our bins, for the children to play with, during their social times.
We’re also happily anticipating the holiday party at the Manse, which will be held after the service on December 15th. This is a wonderful opportunity for the children and their adults to celebrate together, along with me, and their teachers, Ms. Glenda and Ms. Laura.
Blessings and well wishes, with extra hopes for Advent inspiration and joy!
Rev. Francesca Fortunato: Children’s Ministe
This Advent, join unwavering allies of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Rev. Dr. Claudio Carvalhaes, Rev. Kaji Douša, D.L. Mayfield, and Rev. Brian D. McLaren in preparing to grow the light of farmworker justice throughout the new year. The season of Advent draws us into a time of anticipation and preparation with all who long for release from oppression. Through the Fair Food Program (FFP), the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, together with student and faith allies, kindles the flame of justice for farmworkers in the tomato fields of Immokalee and now on farms across seven states.