As I mentioned in this e-letter last week, Advent is a 4 week period in which we are invited to prepare to celebrate Jesus’ first coming into the world at his birth and the time in which we anticipate Jesus’ second coming. We have far more details about Jesus’ birth than we do about Jesus’ future second coming. While the second coming is filled with mystery, what is clear is that one day God will set everything right and there will be no more suffering, pain and heartache.

Advent is a season whose purpose is to get us to focus on all of these things and, as such, it is a season of expectation, preparation, repentance or turning back to God, joy, and a time to get refocused.

Last week I suggested that this is the season of the year to remember three important words. Those words are anticipate, celebrate, and elevate. Over these Advent weeks, I invite you to join me in taking each of these words, one at a time, and to ponder and pray about what each word might offer us in our journey in faith.

To help us remember the three words, I introduced the acronym ACE. A – Anticipate, C – Celebrate, E – Elevate. Last week I focused on the A of ACE or anticipate. You can go to that blog here. This week, however, I’d like to focus on the C of ACE, or celebrate.

In the midst of all that confronts everyone of us in life, health challenges, loss, paying bills, making a living, children struggling with this and that, transitions of all kinds, uncertainty about things or people that are important, and everything else that makes up living, there clearly is a lot for us to celebrate, for which to give God thanks.

Think for a moment about all of our blessings. And not just the big things, but all that is good we often take for granted. Water. Food. Shelter. Air we can breathe. Intact bodily senses.

On top of this there is the huge blessing of people who love us and whom we love. People who care. The fact that we have hearts and minds that experience emotions. The opportunity to work. Great people who are passionate about issues and are doing something about them. Smart people out there solving all kinds of problems. Selfless people in a variety of positions making a difference. People with great integrity in all kinds of leadership positions. The list of blessings is boundless.

But in addition to celebrating blessings, there is much more for which to give thanks. Think for a moment about all we have overcome at various points in life. The times we did not cave in and not only survived, but moved on. The moments we were resilient. The days we got out of bed, even though we were faced with a ton of stuff. The passages through which we persisted. The obstacles we got through. Those things we feared but conquered.

Ponder the many things in life that have gone right. How about the fact we have the freedom to worship when we want. Or that the people at Snowmass Chapel care about you. On top of this, we are adored and cherished by God just as we are right now, without conditions. We have brains that enable us to feel good things, joy and pleasure, not just the hard. The minds we have that enable us to wonder and even engage in questions that seemingly have no answers.

How about celebrating that God’s Holy Spirit is all around us, within us, and that nothing can separate us from God, nothing. Right now, in the year 2019, between Jesus’ birth and second coming, there is much to celebrate.

While celebrating and giving thanks, it is important to remember that such things are not a denial of what is amiss.  Nor are they a minimization of the diffuse evil that impacts this world. Rather celebrating and giving God thanks is an expression of something that is absolutely true in the midst of it all. That is, there is much that is good, right, and the way it should be. Much that is wonderful, and beautiful, and loving. Much that reflects how God wants things to be. So, in this season of Advent, I invite us all to keep the idea of celebrating front and center as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth while anticipating His second coming.