Advent Reflection
by: Sandra Hedrick
Presbytery Stated Clerk
Pastor of Kirkwood (Jacksonville)

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it.” (Psalm 96:11)

As I left the beach for church Sunday morning, some pelicans were flying south over the ocean. As usual, they were flying in single file. I wondered where they had come from and where they were going. I wondered where they would celebrate Christmas, when “heaven and nature sing!”

Have you noticed how much movement there is in the stories of Advent and Christmas? Mary hurried to the hill country to share her joy with Elizabeth. Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem for the census when she was just about to deliver. Shepherds ran in from the fields to see the baby, while the Magi took a little longer to pack up their gifts for the long journey toward Jerusalem.

Do you feel constantly in motion in the weeks up to Christmas? I do! Sometimes it feels like we have to “get up and go” to see the Lord and be a part of what the Lord is doing in this season of hope, peace, joy and love. Parents especially want their children to be a part of seasonal events – religious, cultural, and just plain fun.

But sometimes the “get up and go” can be too much, and we get distracted and overtired. In light of that, it is good to remember that the word Advent means “coming” – not “going.” The good news is that God is coming to us! And not only that, but Christ has come, and is right here with us, wherever we are.

I have a new coffee mug that reminds me that Christ is present in the little local places, the nooks and crannies of the sweet and familiar. It is red and white with pictures of stars, a snowman, and a peppermint stick. It is a gift from a seven year old girl at Kirkwood, our newest baptized member. It was wrapped and placed in a bag she gave me at my church’s “Breakfast with Santa” event, sharing with a quiet voice that there were also small presents for the pastor’s husband and the church in the gift bag. I don’t think I am going to use any other coffee mug until after Christmas. What joy it brings to receive and give tangible expressions of Christ’s love right where we are, among our family of faith!

Monday morning my husband Chuck and I took a long walk on our local beach. It was warm and clear, with very little wind (unusual for December). We saw hundreds of what I will call “local birds” (sea gulls, terns, and more). They were splashing around and feeding eagerly in the little pools that form when the tide is going out.  Chuck and I shared ministry highlights from the past week and agreed that God had come and blessed all the “local places” we had been, from hospital visits to Sunday morning worship, to year-end presbytery work and promising sunrises. 

Advent is a time of movement – of journeys and changes and good news that travels.  Mary, Joseph, shepherds and wise men are all proof of that! But Advent is not as much about “going” as it is about “coming” – the coming of the Lord. Just ask Elizabeth who met him at her house in the hill country or the innkeeper who welcomed him at Bethlehem. Remember that Christ has come here, in the “local’ and the “little” – right before your eyes. May you have a blessed Advent and a holy Christmas!