A Message from Pastor Vern
Happy first day of December!
Can you believe that we are in the last month of 2021 already?!
This past week (like most, if not all of y’all) I celebrated Thanksgiving with part of my family through sharing a big meal together. Turkey, gravy, beans, sweet potato casserole (3 or 4 different casseroles to be correct), deviled eggs, mac n’ cheese, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, blueberry “fluff,” all the fixings were there! Before that meal was shared though, there was an important step in the process. All that delicious food had to be “prepared.”
About a year ago now, Mandy and I moved to Mooresville. Into our first home: a house and plot of land that had our names attached to it. Moving to Mooresville was exciting. With the excitement of a new adventure and call to Mooresville, I wish I could say that all of our stuff just magically appeared in the new house. That just wasn’t the case. There was a lot of work to “prepare” before moving: packing and labeling boxes, deciding what to keep and what not to keep, holy conversations to have with folks that we had met and that had been influential in our lives while we were in Davidson County, there were movers to line up (twice actually), and of course all the fun phone calls to the post office, the utility companies, and other providers to let them know “Hey, we’re moving.” Not to mention, before the move there was also painting to be done in the new house, appliances to be procured, more of the “fun” of moving. All that “preparing” paid off and we made it all in one piece to Mooresville, thank you God!
To brag on my better half for a moment, Mandy this past year began her career in pediatric occupational therapy. However, before she could begin practicing her calling with her kiddos, she had to do a lot of work to “prepare” for her career: commuting back and forth to school, classes, exams, internships, more classes, more exams, board examinations, interviews, and onboarding at an employer.
On June 15, 2018 in Grace Chapel at Lenoir-Rhyne University, I was ordained as a rostered minister of word and sacrament in the ELCA. There was A LOT of “preparing” that preceded that ordination, that public affirmation of my calling to love and lead God’s people. From the summer of 2014, beginning “summer Greek,” my first seminary class, to approval by the faculty of LTSS and the SC synod of the ELCA, there were years of academic learning, spiritual discernment, and experiential learning that helped “prepare” me for ministry.
Last week, after that Thanksgiving meal was prepared, love and food were shared by all who ate that meal. Every day since the moving vans left and boxes began to be unpacked, love has been a cornerstone of the Kinard home. In the learning and adapting to various activities of daily living, Mandy shares her love and compassion with her pediatric clients and their families. And thanks be to God that the Spirit continues to move, allowing me opportunities to love and serve with you all
at St. Mark’s!
There is a common denominator to all of these stories… From a season of “preparation,” comes a season for love to be seen, felt, and known.
And that, my friends, is the story of Advent!
Advent is a season of preparing and anticipating the joy of Christmas. In this season we are preparing and anticipating the celebration of God’s love for us that takes on our humanity and is revealed in Jesus. The wonder of Christmas is again returning to the barn in Bethlehem where we hear and see how deep God’s love for us is; a love so deep that it takes on the fullness of our human experience (eventually even death), wrapped in bands of cloth, and laid in a manger, so that with hope that we might know that in our experience (in our life and in our death) God is with us. And like the bands of cloth that surrounded the baby Jesus, God’s love surrounds and embraces us.
So, my friends, for the next 24 days how are you preparing for the anticipated celebration of Christmas? How are you sharing or experiencing the gift of love this Advent? And how might God be calling all of us at St. Mark’s to proclaim the gift of love that we celebrate in 24 days into the world now, next year, and for years to come?
O come, O come, Emmanuel.
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Pastor Dave Keck