In this Advent season may God uphold you in hope held firm with love, joy and peace.
I do not cease to pray for you, and for your ministries as you proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; and as you teach, baptize and nurture new believers in your various communities across this country, from sea to shining sea. This task is great, and at times difficult, yet, by God’s grace, it is a task for which we all have been equipped.
For it is by God’s grace through baptism that we are given the strength to follow Christ as our Saviour and Lord. Resting in our assurance of God’s grace and mercy, we continue to practice the presence of Jesus Christ in our midst, even to this day.
For it is through such practice and apprenticeship that we open ourselves to God’s forming, reforming and transforming work as we gather together in public worship, and make Holy Communion.
It is through practice that we grow deeper in faith as we devote ourselves to private prayer, Bible-reading and self-discipline.
It is through practice that we bring the teaching and example of Christ into everyday life and witness boldly to our faith in Christ.
It is through practice that we offer our personal service to the Church and the wider community; so also do we offer our finances in order to spread the good news of God’s kingdom to those who are near, and to those who are far off.
I find myself constantly encouraged, dear friends, as I hear the news of your great faithfulness, in witnessing to the work of Jesus Christ, whose birth we await in this advent season. I am overjoyed by your ever-deepening faith, and your readiness to share this world-changing hope that is within you. Be not afraid in declaring the mercies of our God. Be not afraid in sharing your infectious, expectant hope.
For this is a season of great hope, and it is in hope that we are saved.
Our hope, dear brothers and sisters, is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness. And as we seek to minister in the shifting sands of this culture and time, it is on Christ the solid rock we stand.
This hope, dear friends, is not a naïve hope. It is not naïve, but it is expectant. Our hope is in the God who made all things, who sustains all things, and who redeems all things. Our hope is not in ourselves, but in God’s power working through us.
And as we enter this advent season together, I pray that we will maintain the discipline to practice the presence of Jesus in our midst. Though we struggle, though we stumble, we know that God remains ever-faithful.
As we charge through the malls, and charge through our credit, may we be mindful of the God of small things. May we also be mindful of those greater things to which God has called us.
May we be reminded of the liturgy of God’s church, even as we participate in the liturgy of the shopping mall.
For we practice hope each and every week. We practice hope as we eat the bread and drink the wine. And we practice hope when this Eucharist ripples forth through us, transforming our lives and the world around us. We practice hope in many audacious ways.
As we reach out to others in loving service, new hope is born. As we transform society’s unjust structures, new hope is born. As we safeguard the integrity of creation, our hope for new life is born anew.
Dear friends, this advent season we wait expectantly. And in such expectation, we await the world-changing arrival of the carpenter’s son. As we wait together, from West to East, from North to South, may the God of hope fill us with all love, joy and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit.