Remember a year ago? We were all talking about how 2020 was going to be the best year. Major holidays on the weekend, the Olympic Summer Games, and lots of great movies on the horizon. It…hasn’t exactly gone how we expected. We’re entering the time of Advent again – a time of anticipation of what God will do in the coming year. And we begin with a time of Hope. And the Hope of Advent is a hope that comes to us in darkness. In Mark 13, Jesus was preparing his followers for dark times ahead – and offering hope.
13:24 But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,
13:25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
13:26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.
13:27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
He offered a message of hope to people who had been through terrible trials and had more to come. Whatever you have experienced this past year, the season of Advent is a time to remember that Christ offers us hope. We pray that you will have eyes to see hope in what God is doing and a willingness to share that hope with others. Join us this season as we reflect on the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love that God offers us through Jesus.
Second Week of Advent
If we look up peace in a dictionary, we’ll read about absence of conflict or a period of tranquility. But to someone speaking of peace in the time of Jesus would have had a much fuller concept – peace, or shalom means a lot more – harmony, wholeness, and completeness. Over the past year, with so much isolation and seemingly so much taken away from us, it’s difficult to feel whole right now. But the promise of Advent is that God is working for Peace – and that peace will make us whole. It’s peace that Isaiah was offering when he said these words:
40:1 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
40:2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
Wholeness is coming. Redemption is coming. During Advent, God is offering peace to all of us. Rest in the peace God offers you.
Third Week of Advent
Everything was about to change. Jesus took the scroll in front of people who had known him from childhood and had a lot of notions about this upstart kid. And in the middle of this small, unimportant town, the change Christ would bring to the world really began. In that moment, scroll in hand, he read these words from Isaiah:
61:1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
61:2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
61:3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion– to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.
61:4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
Later this week, we’ll read Mary’s song – the Magnificat. Placed in a scary situation, but when the spirit of the Lord came upon her, in spite of fear and uncertainty, she sang a beautiful song of joy. When the spirit of the Lord breaks forth, the world moves toward Joy. Good news for the oppressed, comfort to the brokenhearted, liberty to captives, and prisoners set free. Joy comes from the most unexpected places. Where does joy come from for you this season?
Fourth Week of Advent
A child is born and God’s love comes in the flesh. The heavens themselves sing out in praise, and the message of love, by coming first to shepherds in the fields, becomes a love that is available to all. The wait is almost over, the birth of Christ comes this very week. Read the story of the first people hearing that Good News:
2:8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
2:9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
2:11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
2:12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
This week we celebrate the birth of the Messiah – God coming to earth to teach us how to love as God loves. In this season when love is easy to give and to receive, but at a time when it is so easy to choose anger and fear, choose to love – as God loved us by sending Jesus Christ to us.
Written by Glenn Maddox.