During this time of the year, humanity is reminded of the masterful artistry of God as we observe the variety of distinct colors displayed within the fall foliage. Each year, as senior pastor and pastor of Higher Heights Fellowship in the heart of the city, my wife and I enjoy seeing the masterful artistry of God being displayed specifically throughout the congregation and the community.
As part of our ministry over the past 17 years, our church family supported our community through the distribution of Thanksgiving baskets and turkeys. We have been blessed with the opportunity to distribute these baskets first of all to our widow/widower’s (fulfilling the Word of God) and then to unsuspecting homes surrounding the ministry. We also participate in a dynamic collaboration with other ministries serving a free Thanksgiving Dinner in the city’s northwest community center.
Serving in urban ministry, we have discovered that the needs are great and we could never have enough to meet the demand. But we make sure what we do is impactful. We all need hope. Life can be hard. Sometimes, we have to endure bad days. Other times, we face unrelenting heartache. Most of us face difficult times more often than we would like.
The season of Advent is about hope. It is not just hope for a better day or hope for the lessening of pain and suffering, although that is certainly a significant part of it. It is more about the hope that human existence has meaning and possibilities beyond our present experiences, a hope that the limits of our lives are not nearly as narrow as we experience them to be.
As we look at our world, we see hopeless situations. The news regularly bombards us with stories of the harmful and evil situations people endure. Hope can seemingly be lost. Yet as Christians we are reminded our hope is built on Jesus Christ.
The season of Advent affords us the opportunity to restore hope, love, and peace through Jesus Christ. Not to extend a hand out, but to extend a hand up. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells of doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons, regardless of who you are doing it for!
My wife and I have witnessed the great difficulty of many during these last couple of holiday seasons as they try to partake of the celebrations with heavy hearts. Many have experienced the passing of love ones quite dear to them during this time, causing deep reflection and sadness. It is our prayer and ministry objective within the Advent season to extend a hand up to all those who may have experienced anything life altering, in an effort to keep hope alive. The Hope of Christ! May we all experience a new sense of the God’s hope and be filled with joy and peace this season.
Rev. Julius Brunson (MAT ‘12) is senior pastor of Higher Heights Church of God located in Rochester, N.Y.