Advent is a season of expectant waiting.
In Sunday’s sermon Pastor Andy said, “We live in a world in which we feel the cold of winter and yet we believe and hope in the promise of spring.” In other words, suffering and pain are all around us and yet we are anticipating when Jesus is coming to make all things new. The holiday season has a peculiar way of reminding us of the coldness around us. Many of us are concerned with finances this time of the year. Others are reminded of those who are no longer with them. In our darkness, we hope for light. In our confusion, we hope for clarity. In our pain, we hope for relief. In our sadness, we hope for joy. In our brokenness, we hope for redemption. And as Pastor Andy said, “We hope because God has given us reason to.” Are you struggling to find joy? Look to Jesus and long for his return.
We are much like Simon in Luke chapter 2. Simon was aware of the brokenness around him yet he believed that God would be faithful to fulfill his promises to Israel and send them a King. It says he was waiting for the “consolation” of Israel. Simon was waiting expectantly for God to bring Israel peace through a promised King in a time of great suffering. We to are like Simon eagerly waiting in expectation for the coming of the King! However, as Simon waited for Christ’s first coming we wait for his return. Can you relate to Simon? Do you find hope in Christ’s coming again?
This is what Advent is about. We celebrate Advent because we have assurance that Jesus is coming again to make all things new and to set every wrong right. We celebrate Advent because God has given us Jesus as our rescuer who was sent to this world to redeem us and he is coming again to restore us. We believe that Jesus inaugurated his Kingdom with his first coming and is now at work in our world. He will consummate his Kingdom and his work when he returns. In this already but not yet reality we live in, we are to seek out ways to make Jesus' Kingdom a reality here and now. How can you make the Kingdom a reality as we celebrate the Advent season?
Father, we pray in this season that you remind us of the hope we have in Jesus. We often get so blinded by the brokenness around us that we forget that you are faithful. We ask that you restore our Joy as we wait for the King. We acknowledge how undeserving we are of your grace and mercy, but we thank you for it. As we continue to journey through life may we continue to live in expectation of your coming again to us!
"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"
Red Mountain Music
The Advent Season Reminds Us of the Covenant Faithfulness of God.
As we enter into the Advent season, we are often reminded of a number of things. We are reminded of Christmas decorations, delicious food, family traditions and great holiday memories. Something that we ought to be reminded of during the Christmas season, is God’s covenant faithfulness. Of course, as Christians, we all understand that Christmas is fundamentally about the coming of Jesus Christ, but we ought not forget that Christmas is also about God’s great faithfulness. Scripture, God's story, is full of stories of God's faithfulness. How has God been faithful to you in your story?
On Sunday, Pastor Andy reminded us that God’s covenants pointed the people of the Old Testament toward a coming salvation. Noah, for example, lived in a world full of brokenness and despair, but God graciously made a covenant with Noah as a response to the pure sacrifice that Noah made to God. In this covenant, God promised to protect him and his children from His judgment (Genesis 8:20-22). And now as we live in a world of brokenness and despair, the covenant God made with Noah reminds us of the perfect plan of God, that He sent forth His Son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sin. This is God's kindness to us. Scripture tells us that the kindness of God should lead us to repentance. How do you need to repent this week and celebrate God's covenant faithfulness to you in Christ?
God is always faithful to keep His promises. Even though we may fail again and again to love the Lord and our neighbors as we ought to, God remains faithful and merciful toward us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Christ has redeemed us and we have been adopted by God through faith in Christ and because of this, God has now promised us that he will bring about the completion of the work He began in us at the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). Do you believe that God will remain faithful to this promise as He also remained faithful in the past? Let us be reminded as we begin this Advent season that the covenants of old are a way of helping us look forward in hope to the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Father, thank you for Your covenant faithfulness. Thank you for Your unending mercy and for Your gracious promises. Lord, as we enter this Advent season, we pray that You will remind us of Your faithfulness. Remind us of how You have shown us grace and mercy through Christ. And remind us of Your promise to bring about our sanctification. We ask that as we go out into this world of brokenness and despair, that You will help us to extend grace and mercy to our neighbors. And we ask that You will help us to share the good news of Your unending faithfulness to others during this holiday season.
"You Never Change"
Austin Stone Worship
The Advent Season Points us to Jesus as our Peace.
When we look at the world around us, it’s easy to see a need for peace. The world was in the same chaotic state when Christ came, and as Pastor Andy reminded us on Sunday, the coming of Jesus into the world was the dawning of true peace. Christmas is about peace. When you think about Christmas, do you think of peace? Do you focus more on the stress of the holidays or the peace Jesus provides?
Christ has come to reconcile us to God; to put an end to the hostility between God and man by making peace through His sacrifice on the cross. This is the hope of the Advent season. When the angels appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2:18, they proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” When we are in Christ, who is pleasing to the Father, we receive the peace the angels declared. What about the holidays stresses you out? For some of us, holidays may actually bring a twinge of sadness. Where in your life do you need to lean into the peace of Christ during this Advent season?
When Jesus united us to God, He also united us to one another. We are called to be ambassadors of peace and to share the good news of what the coming of Christ into the world means for mankind. Do you strive to be a peacemaker in your everyday life and during this Advent season? As Christmas draws nearer, seek to show others the peace that only Jesus can bring.
Father, we praise you for establishing peace with us through Your son. Thank you for allowing us to know true peace in Jesus, and for forgiving us when we try to find it elsewhere. Help us to be peacemakers in the midst of the busy holiday season and to live in light of the peace we have in Christ.
"O Holy Night"