Steve BenzGreetings to all within the Presbytery of St. Augustine in this season of Advent, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, whose coming we eagerly anticipate!

It seems at this time of the year that everywhere you turn there are lists of the events of this past year, reminding us of what has gone on in our world during the previous 365 days.  It is as if we need to be reminded of the joy and pain of our corporate lives on an annual basis before we can move into the next year, and I think I don’t quite get that.  The cool thing to me is that the church calendar turns over at the beginning of Advent, almost without noticing that another year has elapsed, because the excitement of awaiting once again the coming of the Christ child overwhelms our sentimentality about the past and calls us into the future so wonderfully.

2014 was an amazing year in the life of Christ’s Church.  There was angst and joy, celebration and heartache, death and new life in so many ways.  You each have your own lists, I am not going to burden you with mine (okay, I will say the highlight of the past year for us was the birth of our first grandchild, Moses.  I have pictures on my phone, just sayin’.)  What I remember most about this year we are leaving behind is the relationships that have been built and strengthened in my life, in the life of our family and in the life of this presbytery.  I remain grateful to God for the call on my life to serve presbyteries and am particularly grateful to have been called again to continue serving all of you.

But God continues to call us into the future.  The fourth stanza of the hymn Spirit (#291 in the new Glory to God hymnal, #319 in the Presbyterian Hymnal) begins like this: “You call from tomorrow…”  I love that because God is in our every tomorrow already, calling to us, waiting for us.  God is constantly in a season of Advent, waiting for us to come, to find our direction and to follow.  The hymn ends like this: “…with bold new decisions your people arise.”  Our future is out there, God is in our future at the manger in Bethlehem, on the Mount, in the garden and on the cross, and finally with us when the tomb is found empty and the Spirit comes to us at Pentecost.  God is all about moving forward, calling to us. 

The work of our Mutual Mission committee, the Montgomery board, the Committees on Ministry and Preparation for Ministry, the Holy Listening visits of our transition team, are the work of us all in 2015 and beyond.  It is all good, faithful, rewarding work within the community that is the Presbytery of St. Augustine.  My prayer for us all in this Advent season is that we will look forward with great joy to every opportunity that God places in our paths for mission and ministry, for fellowship and community in the coming days, weeks and months.

The old has gone.  Behold, God is doing a new thing with us and for us.  Our job now is to respond with gratitude and to discern what God expects of us. Thanks be to God.