by Jack Taylor
There has never been a gift in history that forces men and women to swallow their pride like the gift of the Gospel. -- James Forsyth, Sr. Pastor, McLean Presbyterian Church
With the beginning of the Advent Season and Christmas on the horizon, I have a fierce case of the Christmas Spirit. I am a huge fan of the Christmas season. Everything about it gets me going. In fact, it is snowing outside as I am writing this blog, and I am on cloud nine!
Currently, the fellows are keeping up with the program's responsibilities while trying to finish final semester papers in time to attend the looming Christmas festivities. It is busy stuff, but I trust it will make the rest in celebrating Christ's birth all the more enjoyable. Anyway, various Christmas events have already taken place, including a Christmas party for the McLean Presbyterian Student and Children's Ministries, and I am looking forward to this December's festivities with the fellows and the student ministry staff. That being said, Advent is not just about parties, snow, and hot chocolate. The new season and the semester's end have prompted me to survey what the Advent season means for me in my Capital Fellows year.
Thus far, I am particularly thankful for a few notable parts of the Capital Fellows program, none of which are mentioned in order or rank. First, the program has been a significant period of development in faith and self-discovery. The program combines its rigorous schedule and its Christ-centered curriculum to test and reinforce my faith in Jesus regularly. Moreover, the process of prayerfully taking personality and abilities tests has taught me more about my vocation in Christ's Kingdom. Second, I am thankful for the things I am learning as an intern in the Capitol. Consciously integrating my faith with my work according to Scripture is a relatively new concept to me, but I already see the fruits of fulfillment and purpose that come from the attitude and practice. Finally, my new friends, mentors, and dear host family have been critical sources of joy and support since day one. It is hard to express how thankful I am for all of these new friends, lessons, and experiences. These are better gifts than what I could ask to receive on Christmas Day (cheesy, I know... but true!). But I am reminded that I cannot accept these things without humbling myself to accept God's grace.
James Forsyth, McLean's head pastor, spoke on Isaiah 9:1-7 this past Sunday. He stated that Advent is about darkness, taking me by surprise. He elaborated that Christmas is about light as well, indeed, but it is only after recognizing the darkness found in waiting for the light that we can appreciate the light that Christ brings. Furthermore, the light overwhelms the dark by grace. But grace, like what James says about gifts at Christmas, cannot be accepted "without admitting something you would rather not admit." At this, I squirmed a bit in my seat and breathed heavily. My ego was staring me straight in the face, and conviction panged in my gut. Swallowing my pride, I admitted my flaws and I prayed that God would continue to grow my reliance on him. It is amazing to know his awesome forgiveness. In times like these, I become more aware and thankful for the gifts God has given me, including grace itself and the blessings found in the Capital Fellows program.
I remember several things during this time of Advent. God created me, and I have fallen short of his glory. He has saved me from my sins through Jesus' perfect death and resurrection and calls me to enjoy and glorify him forever. Now, in this season of Advent, please join me in celebrating Christ's birth and his promise to come again! Thank you for your support through prayer and giving, and Merry Christmas!
Pictures from the Week