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Week Two of Advent invites us to consider what it is in our lives that is authentic and what is not. I must admit, there are certain things in my life that I prefer to be artificial. As much as I love the thought of jumping in a sleigh and riding through the woods looking for the perfect Christmas Tree, I prefer my artificial one. When I “pine” for the smell of spruce I simply add another artificially scented wax cube to the warmer.

Almost all of my jewelry is “not real” and I’m okay with that, too. I’ve even had artificial fruit in a fruit bowl, but I grew tired of dusting it. I don’t care for artificial sweeteners and I’m not quite sure of artificial intelligence. Maybe I should ask “Alexa” to explain that to me…

So, I asked, “Alexa, are you an artificial intelligence?” To which the small circular speaker responded, “I like to imagine myself a bit like an Aurora Borealis, a surge of charged multi-colored photons dancing through the atmosphere.”

Even a small circular speaker doesn’t want to be labeled artificial!

What about us? Do we take the time to allow our authentic selves to emerge from all of the trappings of irrational standards, unreachable goals, or worse - the echoes of our past telling us that we will never be good enough? I suppose even the moon and stars might appear quite boring compared to the Aurora Borealis, but what would our night sky be without them?

Jesus invites each of us to come as we are… in God’s love we will find the courage to be our authentic selves… and in the eyes of Perfect Love, that is enough.

Pastor Jo

December 6, 2021

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I didn't grow up in the tradition of following the Christian Calendar, so when I became a Methodist in 1995, I wasn't familiar with the Advent Season. I was curious about so much! Is there a special greeting at Advent like there is at Christmas? “Merry Advent!”

I never heard a formal Advent greeting, but I did hear about the anticipation and preparation - not for Christmas - but for Christ's Return. I learned how the season builds each week on the hope, love, joy, and peace offered to us through God's Love.

After all these years, Advent still stirs within me the awareness that something is stirring. I may not can see it, but there is a renewing of heart and mind... a calling to recenter on what is truly important.

I hope you will join me in allowing God's Spirit to awaken within each of us the hope, love, joy, and peace that has been deposited within each of our hearts and minds through Jesus.

By the way, I went to my favorite search engine and typed in, "What do you say at Advent?"

Come, Lord Jesus! Amen

Amen and Amen!

Advent Blessings,

Pastor Jo

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The United Methodist website defines Reformation Day as a day set aside to recognize and celebrate the Protestant Reformation by remembering Martin Luther and the central role he played in the reform movement that split the western church of Rome. Rev. Daniel Bell goes on to remind us that on All Saints Eve in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" calling for the reform of the church to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

Some 221 years later, John Wesley's famous Aldersgate experience happened as he heard Martin Luther's "Preface to the Epistle to the Romans" being read. Luther’s insight on justification by grace through faith is also woven into our Methodist fiber.

There is much to be said about Methodism and the Reformation, but in the end, to celebrate the Reformation as United Methodists is "to celebrate the God who refuses to accept the separation, the division, the conflict that sin offers. It is to celebrate the God who does not just pardon sinners but who also sanctifies — breaking down dividing walls, overcoming hostility, healing the brokenness that is sin by making us one in Christ's love."

The call for acceptance and grace is also portrayed in the ancient story of Ruth and offers Good News for us all! Join us this Sunday - Reformation Sunday - as we explore the story of Ruth and what it looks like to truly live a reformed life.

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