“…and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. They will rebuild ruined cities and live in them.” Amos 9:14
Restoration has been a buzzword around First Congregational, Darien this year, and it finds new resonance at Christmas. The birth of the Christ child awakens hope for the radical realignment of the direction and fortunes of our lives. It’s the turning John asked for with his word “repent.”
But restoration has fallen from favor within modern global economics. Your cell phone breaks down and you take it to the store where you bought it, right? They’re not going to fix it. Toss it out and get a new one. You take the tear in the shoulder seam of your favorite jacket to the dry cleaners to mend? They barely have a tailor and she charges so much, you might as well buy a new one. Infatuation with new and improved and planned obsolescence only further this trend.
We discard and replace. We don’t repair and restore, redeem and reclaim. As for me, I like to rebel against that. So I use my trusty old Mont Blanc fountain pen, requiring care and repair. I sit on the fender of my 1956 Oldsmobile, dangling my feet in the engine well, to make it hum. I rebel because I believe God does too, so far as we’re concerned: no human being is disposable.
Could you imagine abandoning or demolishing our character-laden, faith-filled Meetinghouse, as we learned of its structural lapses last spring? And then putting in its place a more modern and efficient structure of glass and steel? I gasp even to ponder such a sad thing. We have opted for the direction of repair and restore, redeem and reclaim, powers all at work for good.
The power of Advent and Christmas further builds upon this impulse. This season affirms that relationships are not doomed and can be restored. This season inspires the hope that stalling in the stale places of living need not define us. Yes, we can move on to a more vibrant place. This season reminds us that God is still with us in the world we inhabit, reconciling all that was lost, reclaiming the best and highest impulses within us, and restoring us all in a vision of wholeness.
Do you know anyone who feels broken? Do you know anyone for whom life feels drained of all light and festivity? Do you know anyone who wonders aloud whether life adds up to anything? Consider inviting them to our many services. This Sunday I’ll preach on how to give and receive a gift, most especially Jesus. Christmas Eve offers four services: 2:30 and 4 pm for families and children (consider coming at 2:30 pm!), 5:30 pm for families and youth in a Come-As-You-Are style with Gary, then finally a 10 festival service of lessons and carols with Dale, Dan, and choir.
So come, Lord Jesus, come to us soon. Give us the perseverance we need to penetrate the dark nights of gnawing despair. Allow your Holy Spirit of hope to work restoration anew among us.