At least 90% of the money stays in Vermillion, and sometimes we end up getting more than 100%!
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In days to come the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!
Isaiah 2:1-2, 5 (NRSV)
“Advent, A Time of Waiting
for Prayers to light…”
by Rev. Rick Pittenger
Dear Members and Friends of 1st UMC,
Last Sunday was the first day of Advent. Advent is also the beginning of our church year. The calendar just flipped into the month of December. So, you might be wondering, how the church year can begin in November.
Come with me, won't you? I'd like to take you down the road toward advent, and don't forget to bring your candle. There are many little nooks and crannies, little streams that know what I'm talking about today. For streams don't even think about beginning without knowing for certain that at the end of their journey, they'll be able to splash and flow - for the Missouri that means it will ultimately flow into the Gulf of Mexico.
Yes, we're on a journey and we know what the end will be. Just like a river that flows surely to the sea, so our lives will come upon many tributaries and dead ends along the way. Still, we'll reach Xmas Eve in a little less than a month from now.
Advent means to come; it is like the anticipation that children have: waiting for the relatives for Thanksgiving of this past week or to our home for Christmas in just a few weeks. A child looks out the picture window gazing off into the distance searching and searching for the car. "When are they going to get here?" A child says, sounding disappointed. "It won't be long!" say reassuring parents.
In our fast-paced, instant-gratification world, waiting is not something we're used to. Let's face it, we've all been in the fast-food drive-through that has two lines, or the grocery store line, or the potluck dinner line after church some Sunday. If you're at all like me, I hate waiting; and just when I think I've outsmarted the other shoppers, eaters, or sporting event lines, sure enough, there is a price check that holds up my line.
This happens in our spiritual lives as well. We pray for something. Maybe it's for some "thing," or maybe it's for some "one," or we ask God for "our will to be done." Like the little boy that prayed, "I want patience, and I want it now!" :)
A couple of weeks ago I was at Confirmation Camp with Russ Stone and 10 of our youth along with some youth and adults from Asbury United Methodist Church in Sioux Falls. We had fun, played some games, learned about the United Methodist Churches Social Principals and several other beliefs of the United Methodist Church. Even Russ stated that he learned something new about the United Methodist Church.
It was a very meaningful experience getting to know our youth but also taking time away from the rest of the world for a 36-hour Confirmation retreat. At our closing worship on Saturday night, the youth were encouraged to come to the makeshift altar and light a tea light, only we used those little electronic tea lights. All one had to do was turn on the little switch in the bottom of the light after sharing their prayer between themselves and God.
I watched as young people and adults made their way to the altar, picked up a candle from the basket, paused, said their prayer and flipped their tiny switches to illuminate the candle and place it on the altar with the others.
I witnessed a curious sight. A counselor waited until most of the youth had said their prayers and illuminated their candles in prayer. She reached down into the basket full of tea lights only to discover that her light wouldn't light. In the darkened room it looked like she may have tried more than one light, to no avail. Neither one lit until finally a third tea light broke through the darkness with hope and abundant light.
I thought that was a great metaphor of both prayer and Advent. We are all a little impatient when it comes to our prayer lives. Childlike, yet persistent in our prayers for we know that ultimately God will hear them. Prayers are like when grandparents don't always arrive when we'd like them too. The journey of Advent is not a fast-paced season. It's about the waiting, the anticipation, and the glory of Christ's re-birth in our lives.
As you witness the growing candles of Advent may you feel the warmth that brings in your life, in your home, and in your church.
Waiting with you and placing my prayer candle on the altar of God's grace,
PS Christmas Eve Service of Candles and Light and a visit from Joseph begins at 7 PM on Christmas Eve… hope to see you there!