On why we are ready for Advent.
Rev. Jonathan Faulkner
Dear Faithful Readers.
Advent is one of my favorite times of year. Not only does it mark the beginning of a new year in the life of the Church, but it is a time when we look forward to Christ, both coming as a baby at Christmas, but also as we look forward to His second coming in power. So we anticipate, we lament, repent and look with joy for what is coming next and we worship God for what He is going to do at Christmas. This year, Advent comes as a time of resetting for us, a time to rest and a time to hopefully look forward to something greater.
For those who have been following us, you know that this year has been especially challenging, even more so than 2020. In the last 10 months we have dealt with extreme burn out, angry congregation members, multiple funerals, a forced resignation, a move across the country, broken promises, Post-Partum Depression, gossiped and outright lied about, misrepresented, spiritually abusive denominational leaders, discrimination in the workplace and subsequent firing, extreme financial uncertainty and all the fallout of those things. To put it mildly, it has been a year and we have dealt with the effects of it. Sometimes we have not dealt with it well, I have had a lot of anger to repent of upon arriving in Spokane. It has felt like one of those years like what is described in the book of Job. Everything gets stripped away, you get humbled, knocked down and chewed up and spit out and at the end you do not get any answers, all you get is God in full self, power and immensity, closeness and compassion. And while some of the issues are of our own making, many are not.
Nor has the year been a total wash or complete failure. We welcomed Alethia Wendy Mae into the world on June 12th, God wiped out a mountain of debt that was hindering our ability to move, within weeks of being fired by UPS God provided another job (one that I have done before and which fits my skillset), we have a Landlord here who is kind and has been gracious and willing to work with us through the financial woes of the last two months and we have been welcomed into a community of believers who understands what we have been through and who has embraced us and worked to help us heal. The year has been mixed with joy and pain and all of it running concurrently. What do I mean? June 12th, Alethia was born, June 15th I was asked to resign, June 24th, I officially resigned, Late July, Rachel was diagnosed with Post-Partum Depression/we were contacted by St. Nicolas Anglican Church to come join them in Spokane, August 15th, we moved to Spokane after God wiped out a mountain of medical debt.
That has been about the pattern of the year, sometimes it has been 2 steps forward and 3 back, sometimes it’s been 3 steps forward and only 1 back. Sometimes we have had plenty, and other times, like the last few months, we have watched as God has stretched the little we do have so that we do not go hungry. We have seen friends give generously to help us get through and we have made new friends who will listen and pray and weep with us long before they offer any advice. In the end, it has been God who has been there all along the way, even when we felt as though he was distant or our sin separated us from him, He was there and He was who He said He was and has done what He said He will do. I can’t help but get this thought out of my mind, we could be facing homelessness right now, but God connected us with a Landlord through our Priest that has given us grace as well as planted us in a community where we would be able to find shelter if need be. God has also, at this time, provided a way back to financial health, by His grace through the connections we have formed in this community of believers and when we gather to receive the Eucharist, we can do so thankful that God has propped us up and that despite many times when we’ve been fearful of it in the last few months, our children have not gone hungry or wanted for food. Sometimes that has been through the generosity of friends and family and sometimes that has been through what seem like miracles.
This all clicked for me the day UPS fired me, yes, it was a shock, but after almost two months of Ableist comments by two supervisors, it was also a relief. Nor was it very long after this that I had several job leads and interviews lined up. I write this on my second week of training with a local bakery, in their deli department. If you knew me in Seminary you know what I am about to say. I worked in the seminaries kitchen, first as a dishwasher then as the Deli guy who prepared the Salad Bar and Deli. God prepared me for more than just ministry in those four years. Rachel, who loves children and has a degree in Early Childhood Development found a job at a local thrift store that caters to mothers with small children. She does not want to teach anymore, but she loves helping parents find what they need and she is up to date on the latest in kids toys and clothing and she loves the work. God has been good, even in the midst of the suffering our family has endured this year, our kids are doing as well as they can be considering all the upheaval they’ve experienced this year and we can be thankful for that. Again, God has been good.
So as we enter Advent 2021, as we enter a new Church Year, we need it, we need the lament and the repentance, but we also need the anticipation and the hope. The anticipation that God is coming, that we are not left alone, that He has been with us the entire time and will continue to be with us. And that gives us hope.
To God be the glory forever and ever, Amen.
Sincerely The Faulkner’s.