Our celebrations of gratitude and thanksgiving have quickly faded to memory. For some of us, those gatherings might have felt "normal”, while to others of us, Thanksgiving Day was quieter. We pondered more in our heart than we have in other years, simply because there wasn't as much going on. For some, gratitude wasn't diminished, but felt different as priorities change in this season. Perhaps for others, it felt harder to be thankful, with the weight of this present darkness burdening us. Nevertheless, those closing days of November came and went.

We no sooner crossed off the days of Thanksgiving weekend than we leapt into the season of Advent. Our stroll through the wilderness toward our celebrations of Christ's birth has begun. Despite all our frustrations, fears, and failures, Christ comes unhindered. He calls out, like a child, "Ready or not, Here I come!"

As we stroll through Advent and journey to Christmas day, let God remind you that it is still Christmas despite the pandemic. Webster may have declared the word of the year to be "pandemic", but we know the name above every name - Jesus! Jesus Christ is greater than all the world's sin and problems. Would you join me on your knees in this season of expectation? Confess all that is in the way, ask God to show you what might be getting in the way; confess it, allow Him to remove it, and expect God to move in power. Raise your hands in praise for the deliverance that comes only through Christ Jesus and make it clear to Him that your heart is His. Wait expectantly for God to show up in this Advent season.

As 2019 concluded, I had several conversations with people who were eagerly anticipating the new year. They looked forward to 2020 as the year of clear vision, 20/20 vision. I haven't heard that kind of hope-filled dialogue lately. But the other day, God brought some of those conversations back to mind. The excitement of 2020 has caved to frustration... it seems more like a short-sighted year where we can't plan ahead. We have had to trust God for each step, carefully choosing where our next step will fall. Instead of joyfully running forward, we've been quarantined and isolated. God stirred me to wonder aloud: Has this season been the corrective lens that we needed?

Perhaps this season that the devil intended for harm is being repurposed by God to grant us the 20/20 vision we longed for and will need going forward? The pandemic has offered us the opportunity to spend more time in prayer, more time in His word and has encouraged us to be more dependent on Him. For many of us, it has slowed the pace of life, allowing us the chance to stop and repent and sense the Truth of what Christ's coming really means. The hope, peace, joy, and love that Christ brings as His deliverance renders us free from bondage in all its forms.

Please, use this time wisely. See it as a gift rather than a burden. That doesn't mean that it isn't a pain... It just offers hope in the pain.

As we begin our walk through Advent, remembering that the Truth of Jesus Christ is not compromised by a pandemic, rejoice that it is STILL CHRISTMAS. Look for some pictures of what He is doing in this Advent season and thank God for His artistry.

As you look around and marvel at all that God has done, is doing, and will do... join me in praying, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

Pastor Kevin Heeres