The word is that in Buffalo - in the north of the city where I grew up - the folks there were supposed to get between 2-4 feet of snow this weekend. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are not frozen and with polar air flowing freely over the lakes and picking up moisture, snow, and lots of it, was predicted!
Even for Buffalo four feet is a lot of snow! In a community that is used to it snowing this was a situation that could be considered a crisis.
Crises of course come in shapes and sizes. For one the crisis is what to put on the Thanksgiving table – pumpkin or apple pie? For another it’s which house to go to for Thanksgiving Mom’s or mom-in-laws?
But for some the crisis is far more challenging. What if anything will we eat on Thanksgiving? Where will eat it, under the bridge or in the tent we made from scavenged tarps?
And for some, will the missiles disrupt dinner?
We all know about crisis, and we have all experienced them. Some may have heard that Lilliana is in Children’s hospital in Pittsburgh with Pneumonia, making for a very scary Thanksgiving.
We have all felt the fear of crisis - and it is into that fear and worry that John speaks the words, “In the beginning was the one who is called the Word.”
The Apostle John - if tradition is correct - was facing crisis himself, living in exile on the island of Patmos, penalized by the Roman empire for his work on behalf of what was becoming known as Christianity.
He was a follower of that troublesome Jesus, who regularly confronted hypocrisy and injustice with sincere love and compassion. And he was John will soon explain, the Word.
Into crisis, God speaks, and if we are willing, we hear!
And while our crises tend to be, perhaps less disruptive than John’s, he who had been chased by armed soldiers for having associated with Jesus, our crisis are just as real, if perhaps not so physically dangerous.
We are struggling with jobs, families, budgets, too much week and not enough time, energy, and resources to deal with it all. And lots of us are beginning to feel discouraged, tired, sad, and dejected.
It is into this sense of discouragement and disruption that John shares good news in his telling of the gospel story of the arrival of Jesus the Messiah.
Unlike Luke who tells us the Nativity story of the trip to Bethlehem and of Jesus birth, John tells us about who Jesus was and is – not about the baby in the manger – but about God’s presence come into the world to make some fundamental changes in how we understand God – and ourselves!
John offers us the gift of hope as we come to understand that this Jesus was not just a baby – as cute as they are – but the Word, God’s eternal presence, the one through whom God created all that exists.
And the very one God sent to help God’s creation finally come to an understand that while we struggle with this life, God is with us.
We are not alone!
Hear it and believe! We are not alone, never, ever alone.
God has lived among us and knows the truth about all our human frailties and all our challenges. No matter what we face, God gets us and offers us hope that while what we are dealing with is overwhelming at times, it is nothing that we and God together can’t overcome.
The gift of John’s prologue to his stories about Jesus is he lets us know that the cosmic presence knows us and loves us and desires for us to live this life full of love and grace.
We need not give in to sadness, discouragement, tiredness and dejection, but we can look up and see and hear that God has us, God is with us, God is in us!
And even more amazing is that God is in us not just individually, but in us collectively as a community. None of us are in this alone. Not only is God with us, so are our brothers and sisters in faith.
All you had to see was all the Christmas Shoeboxes, and the Thanksgiving baskets and turkeys and know, it is not by ourselves that we follow Jesus!
We are the assembly of the faithful.
We are the gathering of God’s people!
We are the church, not a building but a community, sustained by the Word himself, by communion, by baptism, by faith in the Word who in the very beginning created all that is, and then, at the right time walked among us.
Open your ears and hear hope.
Hear it in the hymns we sing, the prayers we offer, in scriptures we read, in the work this community does in the world, and in the fellowship that encourages us to grow in faith and practice.
Don’t give in! Instead embrace the good news that Jesus is with us.
He who is called Emmanuel – God with us! And so, it begins!
Advent is here!