Shadows and Light

I'm writing from my desk at home. From the apartment window I can watch people huddled against the cold. It's not yet 5:00 and it's already dark. The snow that fell a few days ago covers the park across the street. It seems we've entered winter a bit ahead of schedule this year.

I wasn't raised with winter. In Venezuela, where my family lived during most of my childhood, we had the dry season and the rainy season and both were hot. So there's something about four distinct seasons, especially winter, that is novel to me. There's just something about these coming months of deep cold and long shadows.

Maybe one of the things that makes winter feel unique to me is the fact that it won't last. Unlike some of you, I kind of enjoy the cold and snow. My boys love being outside in the wintertime and their joy is contagious. But I'm not sure I'd find the season as appealing if it were to last the entire year. But it doesn't and we all know that a few months from now the first crocuses will bloom and the daylight will push dusk back just a little further each evening.

You can probably guess where I'm going with this. To be a Christian is to understand the season in which we live. At the risk of stretching the metaphor too far, maybe we can think of our discipleship to Jesus as taking place within the winter. The cold is deep and the shadows are long. Darkness, it sometimes seems, is growing.

We want to look away from this, to comfort ourselves in the shadows with glimmering things of our own making. And so we know more about the fictional characters on our favorite shows or the intricacies of the impeachment hearings or the softly filtered details of social media celebrities than we do about the people around us, the people walking through the same season of shadows that we are.

This is why the season of Advent has become so important to some of us. In the weeks leading to Christmas, Christians have historically reflected on the season in which we find ourselves. Not winter, of course, but the season of waiting that marks the lives of everyone who follows the ascended Savior who will one day return. Advent invites us to be truthful about the shadows. We remember that all is not well, that sin and evil still sway our hearts and imaginations. We remember the captivity and injustice that characterizes too much of human life around the world.

But we also remember that this season is not only shadows and cold, sin and injustice. As the prophet Isaiah wrote, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." (Is. 9:2) After all, the Light of the World has already come and we, saved and sent by Jesus, carry that light into the shadows.

We need help remembering though and different Christian traditions have found Advent to be a good time to fast, both in response to what is wrong in our world - the shadows - as well as in anticipation of Christ's arrival - the light. So, as we did a couple of years ago, this Advent we are calling a fast for the weeks before Christmas. We will begin on the first Sunday in Advent, December 1, and end on Christmas Eve. We have put together information about the fast, including what foods and activities we will be refraining from and some teaching on why Christians fast. You can find that here: 2020 Advent Fast. In the coming weeks we will also post an Advent devotional for you to use during the season.

Please email Pastor Michelle or me with any questions you have about the fast. I'm looking forward to watching the light break through our shadows this Advent.

- Pastor David

PS Don't forget about the worship night tomorrow. More info below.

Community Prayer Requests

1) Pray for teachers and students as they get back into the rhythm of learning after the strike.

2) A couple of Sundays ago we prayed for seven-year-old Gisselle who was shot while trick-or-treating on Halloween. Praise God that she is recovering so well! Continue to pray for her and for protection for all of our children in Chicago.

3) As we approach the holidays let's remember friends and family members for whom these days carry painful and tender memories. Please pray for comfort and healing.

Year-end Giving Challenge: Bus Passes

Toward the end of each year we stretch for a financial giving challenge. This year our goal is to provide bus passes for refugee families served by World Relief. These passes allow families to take English classes as they get accustomed to their new home. Everything beyond our budgeted giving will go toward purchasing these passes. Don't know how to give at New Community? Check out this info sheet. Thanks for your generosity!

Calendar & Opportunities

Prayer/Worship Night | Friday, November 15; 7:00PM
Join us for prayer and worship at the Ministry Center (3627 S. Cottage Grove).

Women's Gathering | Saturday, November 16; 7:00PM
The women of the church are getting together at the Harris' home for a time of hanging out and getting to know each other better! Email Amy for directions.

Middle School Game Night | Friday, November 22; 6-8:00PM
Calling all 5th through 8th graders! Dinner included! Parents RSVP to Pete.

Annual Congregational Meeting | Sunday, December 8; after service
All are welcome; members need to be here!

Open AA Meeting | Thursdays; 7:00-8:00 PM
Sponsored by The Chicago Area Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous, the meeting is open to all who desire to stop drinking and is held in Room 425 of Mercy Hospital (2525 South Michigan Avenue; 312-567-2000).

Google Group
Join our Google Group for unofficial church news, happenings etc.

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