The first Sunday of Advent usually has the theme of hope. After examining the readings for the season of Advent for this year, a common base for many of them is hope grounded on a vision offered by God of what can be.
After almost a year and a half as transition minister at St. Matthew’s, I am reflecting on my hopes for my ministry here, my hopes for St. Matthew’s, and what has happened so far. I am reading a book titled Leading Congregational Change, and was re-reading the section on skills and traits for this kind of leadership, and stopped at the section on vision. A change leader needs to have a clear personal vision and encourage other leaders and members to clarify their personal visions and their visions for the congregation. The authors refer to a time when it is right to discern the vision, and now feels like the time.
My personal vision, first formed by about age 11 or so, modified and refined ever since, is living out my love for God through what I do with and for other people and the natural world around me. Sometimes I do this fairly well, and sometimes not at all well. I see this desired life set within the actions of the Spirit in leading us to a world where all are important, all are loved, all have a place, and all have what they need for good lives.
My immediate challenge is translating that vision into actions that are helpful at St. Matthew’s, and recognizing when my impatience gets in the way of taking time to discern what the Spirit is doing and where the Spirit is leading.
My hope for this first Sunday in Advent is that the love which is so richly abundant in this congregation will bloom and multiply in surprising ways, and that I will be a help in that.
Now is a good time to consider our hopes, our visions for our own lives, and our visions for the communities to which we belong.