Advent 2023 Newsletter – Grace United Church

“Advent: Redirecting our lives to God’s authority and aligning oneself to the coming of the Realm of God!” – Rev. Takouhi

Dear Grace United Church,

Are you ready for Advent?

Do you remember what Advent is?

We already know the long nights are here, and the hours of daylight have become shorter and will be even shorter until December 21, and after that longest night, the daylight hours will be starting to get longer and longer, slowly but surely. We do know this, and we hold on to this Hope.

As your spiritual leader it is my duty to immerse myself in study in the Word in different forms: The Bible, study books, and reflection books. I also try to do some writing myself. In October, I took a week off to read a new Advent Devotional from around the world, “Light from Afar,” and after finishing one of the chapters, the above words came to me and I wrote them in the book. It is a great gift for ministers to have these learning opportunities, not just for our own sake but for the sake of the Communities of Faith we serve as well. The authors of these reflections are from Brazil, Philippines, Ukraine, and South Africa.

Each author shares childhood experiences of Advent and Christmas, and how they were blessed by different rituals of their own families and communities, but most of all, how they were blessed by different gifts they received from others. These gifts were sometimes material, and financial, but most of all they were gifts of Love, Respect, Dignity, Service and Grace.

It has reminded me so much of my childhood, and how I wanted to offer my voice by joining the carolers of the church who went out to sing from midnight until the morning light came up on Armenian Christmas Eve (January 5-6). I was too young to go, I was less than eight years old, when these carolers went, before the Civil War in Lebanon started.

After April 1975, I was not even eight yet (November 18, 1975) – the Lebanese Civil War Started and it has not yet stopped. It continues in different forms that will be too long to mention in this newsletter. However, similarly to these world-renowned authors, I too remember the Light from afar. No matter how much we did not see the sun, literally, because of the smoke from bombshells covering the sun, there still was this small light that flickered on us and led the way – look where God has brought me. Every single day, my mother read a Psalm, and every night, she read another one. Psalm 91 is embedded in me, and I hear her reading it to me still. What a Gift our memories are.

Beloved, it is easy to grow blind to the small lights around us in the middle of a world where everything and everyone competes to shine stronger than the other. Politicians find any excuse to dehumanize children and adults equally for their own gain and greed. Controlling the world with weapons of destruction to bring Peace is not PEACE. When we are all seeking to bring PEACE in the world, some politicians seek to gather PIECEs of land in attempts to annihilate people and make their borders larger and larger – forgetting that life is a short journey and no one is able to live forever in this physical form.

Friends, the world seems so dark and difficult to live through right now, but this is NOT new. After the first Christmas, Herod killed infant children because of his own insecurity and pride. The Herods of this day are still killing children who are created in God’s Image. Today the Spirit of God is reminding us to hold on to that little Light – even if it seems to be so far away – but we know deep down inside that the Child, Immanuel – the manifestation of God with us – is not fake news and is with us always. We have experienced Immanuel in the past, still experience it now, and we know this Good News will continue to be shared repeatedly into eternity and beyond.

So, today, as we might think that helplessness and hopelessness are stronger than the Light in and around us, I hope you take advantage of the Advent season, starting on Dec. 3, 2023, and journey with us in person or virtually Redirecting our lives to God’s authority and aligning ourselves to the coming of the Realm of God! 

Thanks be to Immanuel, the ever-present God who is always with us in the Good Times and Bad, who has brought us together as pilgrims so that we can help each other celebrate our Joys and carry each other through our hardships.

Do you see the Light from afar? 

Join us, let us help each other See the Light, Be the Light and Spread the Light. Thanks be to God the Source of All Light and Life. Amen.

I remain humbly God’s Servant-Daughter – Because of Grace,
Rev. Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro
B.A., B.Th., M.Div.

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