"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2
"The color of the season is FINALLY here." "You have been approved for 50% off the new gifts you want." "This is just the look for you." Since I bought a couple of things online months ago, I am now the GAP's best friend. They send me messages every day telling me what I would look great in, what I simply must have, what will make my life more complete. Sometimes I give into temptation and click on an email, only to be disappointed by yet another black turtleneck or striped scarf or fuzzy mittens, items I usually decide will not make my life appreciably better. For the past four or five weeks, I have been scrolling down to the bottom of the GAP's emails and clicking "Unsubscribe," but they don't seem to understand that I want to break up with them. They continue to woo me with unbelievable offers and new designs guaranteed to make me very happy.
Paul warns us not to be conformed to this world. It's easy to be seduced by messages that tell us what is good and acceptable and perfect in the eyes of our culture; we are bombarded by those messages daily. Mostly they offer us superficial fixes which make us feel better for a moment but rarely satisfy our deep longing for meaning in our lives. Paul reminds us that the messages that really change us are the ones that turn our hearts and minds toward God, those that bring us into the light of God's love and joy and peace. It's not that we can't connect with what is of God online or in emails. We can use social media to stay in touch with people we love. We can read articles that deepen our faith online. We can email friends with messages of encouragement. The rest of the stuff that flits by our eyelids every day might entertain us or give us convenient access to things we need or even want, but it rarely feeds our souls. Which is what I will tell myself when I click "Unsubscribe" again tomorrow on the GAP email that promises to change my life.
That said, here is an online resource you might want to check out for meaningful Advent devotions for the upcoming season; I receive daily email devotions from Luther Seminary and find them wonderful: https://www.luthersem.edu/advent/default.aspx?m=6352
Next Wednesday, December 6, we begin three weeks of Advent meal gatherings with Holden Evening Prayer. All three will be held at the Presbyterian Church of Floyd, beginning at 5:30 pm with the meal and the service following around 6:00 pm. Holden Evening Prayer is a deeply meditative service that focuses on the Holy One to come and already in our midst. Our parish is responsible for the meal on December 6 and December 20. We will need at least 3 pots of soup and three trays of sandwiches. If you would like to provide food on either evening, let me know and I will add you to the list.
As you look forward to holiday plans with friends and families, remember we will have two services on December 24: Fourth Sunday in Advent at 10:30 am at St. Mark and Christmas Eve at 7:00 pm at Zion. Please welcome your loved ones to join us.