1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Grace to you and peace from God our [Creator] and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in Christ, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. God will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Most High is faithful; by God you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Devotion by Rev. Courtney Jones
Beloved, in the spirit of “an honest Advent,” I’ll just tell you my own truth: this year has been awful. It’s been stressful; it’s been sad; it’s been filled with griefs over lost possibilities and lost loved ones. It’s not what any of us signed up for when we decided to close down in-person worship back in March. The pandemic has gone longer and grown bleaker as the year has dragged on.
These words from Paul reflect a strange mix of feelings I have from time to time, just when I’m ready to bemoan all the people and activities I miss, just when I’m grumping at God that this is not the ministry I signed up for: an unexpected surge of gratitude as I remember you. Each of you and all of you. The ones whose faces I know, and the ones I only know in name as I read through the directory. The ones who are new, the ones who are long-timers, and the ones who are founders of this small but mighty congregation. God drew us to one another, and I understand a new dimension of holy gratitude, “giving thanks in all things,” at it says in 1 Thessalonians. I see God at work in you. I learn more about Christ the more I get to know you. The love of God is real even when the bottom halves of our faces are hidden by masks, even when we are participating in livestream worship or a zoom call—apart in distance but close in Christ. For the gift of traveling this unprecedented and terrible time with you, beloved ones, I give thanks. Our God is, indeed, faithful.
Love and grace and peace to you, dear ones, this Advent and always.
God, thank You for the ways Your love breaks through even in the most difficult times. Help us have eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to perceive what new thing You are bringing into the world this Advent. Amen.