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“The Messenger” December 2023 Is Here!

Bethel’s monthly church newsletter The Messenger has returned!  The first full monthly issue  debuted on July 1!  We look forward to regularly communicating church news and activities with you again!


Christmas Blessings from Our Pastor

Jesus says: “Keep awake, be on the watch! Mark 13:34

Giving thanks to the Lord for Bethel Methodist Columbia!

The season of Advent is upon us!


Advent is a holy time of preparation and anticipation. We wait for the Son of God along with all of creation. We wait for the baby along with expectant Mary. During Advent, we prepare, and then throughout Christmastide, we celebrate!


As any parent can tell you, parenthood is a process that begins long before the actual birth of the baby. From the moment the baby quickens – begins moving in the womb – mom is well aware that the baby is there. The internal kicks and jumps are a physical reminder that a new individual exists within, although yet unseen. Some parents will read to, or play music for, the baby in utero. At the same time, doctor visits are planned, baby clothes, diapers, and toys are acquired, relatives are contacted, and maternity arrangements made. The weeks leading up to birth are busy, as everyone prepares for delivery. So, too, is Advent a time of busy preparation. We celebrate Mary’s pregnancy as she and Joseph near the time of Jesus’ birth.


In many ways, Advent is a time of the “already, but not yet.” Advent is about living in the present “pregnant” age, while simultaneously waiting for the kingdom of God. The Christ Child has been conceived, but has not yet been born into the heart of humanity. Jesus has been nourished in Mary’s womb, but has not yet nourished the world with the bread of life. Elizabeth’s unborn child jumped with joy, but the shepherds are yet to dance in the fields. The Christmas promises of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love have been conceived, but not yet brought to fruition.


This is why, during Advent, we wait expectantly, patiently, and hear the words of the prophets. God sent the promised Messiah all those years ago, but Christ is yet to come again. Yes, God is currently working through us to do love and justice, but God’s promised reign of peace on earth has not yet come.


As Christians, we live in a liminal space between what God has done and what God will do. Similarly in Advent, we celebrate Mary’s miraculous pregnancy, while waiting for the miracle of Christ’s birth. We anticipate and prepare with joy in our hearts, because we have had a foretaste of that joy. During this Advent season, try making time more sacred. I encourage you to slow down even as the rest of society becomes more hurried. Be more prayerful. Practice patience and waiting. Take time to read from the Bible and Advent devotionals. Give more generously to church and charities. Create opportunities to share meals with your family.


Be watchful! Advent is an opportunity to make ready for God’s gift of love, Jesus!


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