I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving that included an opportunity to connect with family and friends in some meaningful way. Even a small phone or facetime call can be very meaningful. Staying connected to others is critical. We do not all have access to our families and friends in the same way as we may have in the past. Some may have moved away or died or maybe we had to move. The way we connect is always changing but those connections still exist and we experience them through old and new ways: a decoration, photo, song or even smell can create a long forgotten connection.

Over time, even the best of connections can become clouded or cluttered. Memories may be uncomfortable or even painful. Somewhere a comment or perceived slight may have injured someone. Illness or physical injury may have taken a portion or all of our ability to see, hold or touch a person or group. These things can accumulate over time and keep us from finding new and creative ways to renew or re-create those connections.

The scripture readings for Advent are not all pleasant and uplifting. They include moments of pain and brokenness. Each year when we share in those readings we have the opportunity to clear out some of the clutter that may be clouding or hindering our connection with God and each other. Each year we can make a little more room in our lives by cleaning up some of those connections. By hearing and remembering our faith family stories and staying connected to that story, we not only make room for us to connect in new and creative ways to each other but we enable ourselves to see ways that family, friends, neighbors and even God are reaching out to connect with us that we may have blocked or ignored.

The readings of Advent also remind us that all relationships are connected. When we fail to work on any one relationship it effects every other relationship. The commandments of the Shema are connected: Hear, Love God with everything, Love your neighbor as yourself. Can we love God with everything if we don’t love our neighbor as ourselves? Can we hear clearly what God is saying to us without love and those meaningful connections? Can we experience God’s connection with us fully if we don’t welcome the stranger, immigrant, neighbor or family member in full connection?

There are lots of ways to make room for Christ this Christmas but true space is created when we offer space to others. When we forgive old hurts, embrace memories, make ourselves vulnerable, risk falling in love with someone and allow them to love us, we risk being deeply connected to God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength and to our neighbor as ourselves.

See you Sunday,