As a child neither my family nor my church family celebrated the season of Advent. We did not light an Advent candle for each of the four Sundays prior to Christmas. We did not have a Christmas Eve worship service. Since my arrival to New Jersey, however, I have adopted and embraced the traditions of the Advent season with a deeper appreciation of the larger Christmas event. When our children were young, Sharon and I established a family advent wreath, daily gathering for family worship before bedtime. The churches I pastored also emphasized the season of Advent and held meaningful and beautiful Christmas Eve worship services.
All of these traditions point to the coming of the Christ, God’s Messiah, in the stable in Bethlehem. That is what Advent is and does. And so we wait for the Messiah and Christmas Day!
The reality is that our Messiah has come. Jesus is God’s Gift and Light to the world. But we still wait–for His Second Coming! Jesus Himself said, “I will come again.” A pastor friend of mine told me that he would rather his flock would understand the impact of Jesus’ first coming before they become so enamored with Jesus’ second coming!
Our Scripture readings for today remind us of the breadth and totality of the Christmas event at Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus is more than a simple, momentary blip in human history, and definitely far more than the ‘warm fuzzies’ most people ascribe to the Christmas ‘holidays.’
Christmas is about the reality of Satan and evil. It is about Jesus being both Savior and Judge. Christmas is about transformation and new life. Christmas is about Jesus’ second advent who sits on the eternal throne while we cast our crowns at His feet and declare, “Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Christmas is about being faithful even in the midst of tough times when we ‘walk the walk, and talk the talk.’
The Christmas message is simple and it is pervasive! It is known and unknowable! It is earthly and it is heavenly! It is simple and it is complicated! It is safe and it is dangerous!
Christmas is wonderful! Jesus is coming…….
Today’s Readings – Psalm 119:49-72, 49, 53, Zech 3:1-10, Rev 4:1-8, Matt 24:45-51