My Dear Friends,

It’s impossible to miss signs that Christmas is coming –traditional songs on the radio, TV specials, the Nutcracker ballet, lights on trees and in homes! Our families are preparing well to celebrate the holiday.

But, how do we know that Christ is coming? How do we prepare for Him? It is not enough to decorate the church and install a manger scene. We must take to heart the powerful readings of Advent in which John announces the presence of the Messiah in a desperate world. His road must be straightened and made smooth. That must be our spiritual preparation.

We start with ourselves, taking a good look. Perhaps we can tackle one or two persistent faults and grind off some sharp edges. Perhaps we can bring a smile and a warm greeting to the sick, lonely or forlorn. A nice start, but not enough. So, St. Michael also focuses attention in this season on the less fortunate outside its walls. We stock the food and paper pantry, fill the mitten tree with gloves and scarves, donate meals for the giving tree, support the American Indian Association and the women’s shelter and send off shoeboxes to children in other lands. We are leveling the hills and filling the valleys to speed Christ’s mission.

This makes us all very busy. Yet, we will miss the vital impact of Christmas if we don’t also pause in the chaos to redirect our spiritual focus. We must take quiet time to pray, for ourselves, our families, our friends. We must ask God for His faithful help, and we must listen thoughtfully to His answer. We learn His will in the whisper of a breeze, not in the roar of a hurricane. Therefore, we watch and we wait with patience and hope. Christ will come again!

As it is a key component of Advent, we may need to consider watching and waiting from a new perspective. We cannot be idle. Like the doorkeeper in Mark’s gospel, we are charged with keeping alert to the mission of the bridegroom. What can we do to make his coming more joyful? Maybe, we can invite a friend to attend our Christmas liturgies or possibly add a little to our Christmas collection? In this way, St. Michael will grow in numbers and resources. And, we will continue as a community of wise gatekeepers.

As we walk together through this Advent season, know that I hold each of you fondly in my thoughts and prayers. Like St. Paul, I thank God for your commitment to Christ’s church and to its mission to make Him a sure presence in our tumultuous world.

Your Priest,

Paula+