“Within Our Reach,” An Advent Letter from Pastor Jeff

The Christmas Season is a special one that we find full of bright colors, yesteryear’s memories, and memorable traditions. I don’t know about you, but our family has already begun to practice our holiday traditions, including watching Charles’ Dickens “A Christmas Carol” performed by The Muppets, and by taking our annual trip to “Koziar’s Christmas Village.” Our Christmas Tree is in the living room, and the inside of the house decorated. I have even found myself wrestling with strings of outdoor lights to bring smiles both to our children and the neighborhood. This time of the year is full of reminders of hope, peace, joy, love and Jesus.

This special season of bright colors, has another “darker” side to it. It is also a season that is full of much sadness, family tension, loneliness, and the painful reminders of the loved-ones that we are missing or have lost. These things can prevent us from truly enjoying the celebrations and traditions that we are constantly reminded about in stores and movies. Others of us are might be wrestling with seasonal depression or obstacles in our life that steal the “magic” of the season. However, even in these tense and painful moments, it is important we hear the Christmas Story to remind ourselves of hope, peace, joy, love and of Jesus.

This Sunday, at East Petersburg Mennonite Church, we begin our new Advent Season for the Christmas Season, “Within Our Reach.” No matter where we are at in this moment, I hope we desire to enter the Christmas story to be reminded of how Jesus brought us (and this world) a deeper meaning to hope, peace, joy, and love.

In Church, we often refer to this season as “Advent.” The word Advent comes from a Latin word, “Adventus.” The word “Adventus” is often simply translated as, “the coming.” However, it might be even deeper than that. Listen to how Stephen Beale explains it, “Adventus is a form of the verb advenio which is defined not only as arrive, come to, but also as develop, set in, and arise. Adventus itself also refers to an invasion, incursion, ripening, and appearance—all denotations that are rich with implications for the gospel accounts of Christ.”

Through this Christmas Season, on Sunday mornings we are going to walk the path leading up to the Christmas story. We are going to witness just how Jesus brought hope, peace, joy, and love within our reach. When some teachers of the law asked Jesus when the “Kingdom of God” would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the Kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the Kingdom of God is (already) in your midst.” Another way of putting this is that Jesus told them that all the hope, peace, joy, and love of God was now within their reach.

I am not sure where you are as you enter this Christmas Season. However, I do know both personally and through the story of Christmas, God’s presence is within your reach. In his love he is pursuing you with his hope, peace, joy, and love. Jesus is near you, right this very moment, and throughout this season, and he is with you in whatever is yet to come.

We invite you to join us on Sunday Mornings, 10:10a.m., at East Petersburg Mennonite Church for our Advent series, “Within Our Reach.” This series will run from December 3rd to December 31st, 2017. Together, let’s experience the hope, peace, joy, and love that Jesus brings within our reach. Let’s also invite others that need to hear this message, that need to experience reminders of Jesus’ hope, peace, joy, and love.

Within Our Reach:
Our five-week journey of re-discovering hope, peace, joy,
and love through the Christmas story of Jesus and what it means for us

December 3rdHope. We see and join with what the Father is doing.
December 10thPeace. We experience and bring healing in all aspects of life.
December 17thJoy. We believe everybody gets to play in God’s blessing.
December 24thLove. We learn from Jesus to love God, and love people.
December 31stJesus. Practice becoming Kingdom people in the world.

This Christmas we discover just what is within our reach,

Pastor Jeff McLain

and East Petersburg Mennonite Church