Advent Reflection: Anticipation

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Each week of Advent we offer a reflection on "What Advent Means to Me." This week: Carson Rhyne, Temporary Head of Staff.

Remember the ketchup commercial some years ago that had a jingle ANTICIPATION?  It helped us “anticipate” the slow moving ketchup coming out of the bottle. It was a creative way to sell ketchup!

Well, anticipation is one of the key elements of the Advent Season: anticipating the birth of Christ, anticipating the Savior of the world, anticipating the new life which we have in Christ. Some years, we have more feeling of anticipation than others.

This year at FPC RVA, anticipation is rampant! With news of the Session calling a congregational meeting for January 6, 2019, for the purpose of hearing the final report of the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) including extending a call to a new Pastor/Head of Staff, the church has been abuzz all week about anticipating this meeting.

Naturally, when we anticipate something special in our lives, there are numerous “what if” questions. Anticipating a birth, what if the child is male or female; anticipating a new job, what if the work place is different than I am used to; anticipating a move, what if the new neighbors are not friendly?

I also think there are all kinds of “what if” questions which might be circulating in the congregation: What if the pastor is male? What if the pastor is female? What if the pastor has a deep south accent or a Scottish accent? What if the pastor is single?  What if the pastor has 2.3 children and a spouse? What if the pastor is within six years of retirement? What if the pastor is ordained only 5 years? What if the pastor is spiritual or evangelical? What if…. 

These questions are natural as we anticipate the congregational meeting on January 6.  It is natural and also normal to have these questions as we await the report of the PNC.

But the same “what if” questions arise as we await the birth of Christ!  What if Christ touches my heart and calls me to consider a new job opportunity? What if Christ stirs my heart to reach out to an estranged family member? What if Christ wants me to stay exactly where I am? What if Christ is not real for me this Christmas?

There is one way that Advent-waiting and our waiting for a new pastor are alike:  both are built on our trust in the promises and work of the Spirit. Advent carries with it trust in the promises of God’s work in the world, for salvation and redemption. The calling of a new pastor carries with it our trust in the promise that God has called, guided, nurtured and empowered the PNC we elected to bring us a recommendation for pastor.

My prayer is that you will anticipate with as much excitement the coming of Christ into our hearts and lives as we anticipate the congregational meeting. Ask your “what if” questions with one another about both events. And await the revelation of Christ in your heart and soul for both.

FPC Richmond