As Advent draws to a close today and we look toward the twelve days of Christmas, I want to reflect briefly on some of what I’ve learned over the past few weeks.
(The following is an adaptation of an Advent sermon I gave several years ago.)
Today is the fourth (and final) Sunday of Advent. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which simply means “appearing” or “coming.” Throughout this brief season that inaugurates the Christian year, we’ve been preparing for the appearing of Jesus at Christmas.
God Keeps Coming To Us
But of course we don’t just meditate on how God came to us in Jesus long ago, we meditate on how God keeps coming to us today, how he refuses to abandon us, how he is relentlessly with us. A comforting presence, yes, but a dynamic presence–a churning, roiling, upsetting presence sometimes, moving us toward life.
The way God comes to us is an important theme of Advent, because it’s easy to let the sentimentalism of the season get the best of us. We think of Baby Jesus the same way we think of babies in general: cute little bundles of joy to dote on and take care of. But this almost always sets us off in the wrong direction.
I definitely want to continue writing about some of the things we’re learning about evangelism, but it seems best to wait until after Christmas for that. In the meantime, here’s a two-part thought that struck me this morning as I was reading the Daily Office.
God seems to bypass the elite and important and chooses to use very ordinary people to fulfill his purposes for the world, but he doesn’t just choose random ordinary people; he seems to choose ordinary people who have prepared themselves to be used.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, which is New Year’s Day for the Church. Today is when we start telling the story again, the story of how Jesus Christ fulfilled the story of Israel in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, and how we now live with him by the Spirit and await his final return.
Every year we tell the story again, basically because we need to immerse ourselves in it, because it is the true story of the world. It is the report of what God is doing in the world to redeem and restore all things, the proclamation of how God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.