Dear St. Matthew’s Family,

Advent is here and with that is the start of a new church year!

The lectionary for this year focuses on our namesake, the gospel of Matthew. Each gospel account tells the story of Jesus but with different emphasis and through their own lens. Consequently, each year has a different focus and often leads us to consider different theological questions and to emphasize different attributes and realities of God and the Gospel. We just finished the year of the gospel of Luke. There are a couple of differences between Luke and Matthew—Luke gives more attention to the women around Jesus and he emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit in a way that the other gospels do not. So those stories we heard of Elizabeth and Mary last Advent aren’t told in Matthew. Instead, this year we will hear more of Joseph and the Magi that come to visit the infant Jesus. As we head further into the year and the stories, we hear various details changed and emphasized and we read well known texts that we don’t hear every year, like the Beatitudes.

It feels like wonderful timing to draw our attention to our namesake at this point in St. Matthew’s journey. Names have meanings, and they influence who and how we are. I’d like to encourage us to dig a little deeper into this gospel as we continue to refine our understanding of who St. Matthew’s is and where we are headed. To that end, we are going to take the opportunity to read through the entire gospel together in January. We will take turns reading aloud to each other in the Nave the full arc of Matthew and begin to see how all of the pieces and parts that we read throughout the year come together to form the faith claims that the gospel of Matthew is making. We will share more details about this readthrough later, but we are looking at a Saturday morning in the beginning of January.

For now, we encounter Matthew with his apocalyptic words about our need to be ready and to be watchful. They read as words quite removed from the beautiful baby Jesus we celebrate at Christmas with Shepherds and Angels all around. And they are all part of the same.

I recognize how difficult it can be to hear suggestions to wait, to watch, and to slow down, especially as we prepare for all that is coming through these holidays—there are so many people to see, things to do, expectations to be met. So please hear it as an invitation. An invitation to let some of the stress go, and an invitation to let yourself breathe and focus on your heart and your faith. This Advent season we will be having Midweek Advent services again. They will be on Wednesdays at 7pm starting on November 30. The services will be a space to breathe and just be. The environment will contemplative and you will have space to think or not, to pray or sit in silence. If this is something you are needing, you are most welcome.

Blessings to you all this Advent Season!

Pastor Kirsten