Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent is Coming!

Well, it’s that time of the year when the church calendar starts over! December 1st is the first Sunday of Advent this year. You may be wondering just what Advent is all about, so I will give a quick explanation!

Advent is the first season of the liturgical year for Christians who follow the church calendar. The word advent come from the Latin word adventuswhich means “coming.” So we call this church season Advent because we are preparing for Jesus’ coming in the flesh at Christmas (not just a day, but an entire season for the church!), which is also called the Feast of the Nativity. The neat thing about this season is that it also reminds us that Jesus is coming back one day to consummate his kingdom here on earth and reveal his glory to all the world. This is one reason why the church calendar celebrates Christ the King Sunday as the final Sunday of the church year, which was last week at the time of this post.

So, Advent serves a double purpose:
  1. A preparation for Christ’s second coming. This is recognized by the readings from the first two Sundays of Advent focusing on Jesus’ teaching about this second coming.
  2. A preparation to celebrate his birth. This is seen in the readings for the third and fourth Sundays that point to some of the prophecies of that first coming as well as Gospel readings that tell the story of things that were happening just before Jesus was born all those years ago.

So, what is our posture for learning and putting these truths into practice for ourselves? One way that we do this is asking ourselves, why did Jesus need to come in the first place? Well, we are all sinners in need of redemption from our sin. And that very sin has infected all of the world, not just people. The whole creation groans under the burden of the curse because of our sin. Thus, Jesus’ coming was for all of creation’s redemption, which includes our own redemption. Through Jesus, everything is put to rights, as N.T. Wright likes to put it. This is very important for us to think about this season.

What does this lead to then? It leads to a time of reflection in our own individual lives about our need for Jesus. I need Jesus continually because I myself am a sinner who is in the wrong with God the Father because of the sin that dwells in me and my own actions. Part of my practice for this season is to remember this and seek God’s mercy remembering that it is in Jesus himself for me! There is a sense of sorrow in this season for my own sin and that leads to a sense of repentance and seeking God to renew our hearts through His Holy Spirit that He has given to us. This is a starting place for us and I will have more to say later.

Come Lord Jesus, come!
(I also posted this on my Tumblr blog in case anyone comes across that and thinks that I ripped someone off...)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Last night our pastorate teaching was on community. It was a hard one for me to focus on because I was taking care of Ike during it and he was not in his snuggly, sit still and relax mood as he usually is when Rach takes care of him.  However, one thing that Steve said caught my attention and has me ruminating a great deal.

He mentioned how community doesn’t really happen until some type of crisis occurs in a group.  He looked at Acts 11 and how it wasn’t until God scattered the church in Jerusalem around that they began accomplishing his work to bring the Gentiles into the church as a group.  You had Peter and others who went out and followed God’s lead and brought non-Jews into the church, but there was not a concerted effort until the church got scattered that they all started to live this kind of faith in front of the Gentiles.

That got me thinking more specifically about individuals and maybe Steve dug into this a bit, I honestly can’t remember because I was so in and out of the teaching last night.  Crisis and tragedy are a catalyst for us as individuals to enter a community of others!  What drives us to depend upon someone else?  Often, we cling to our own ropes so hard that we won’t let go.  We get to the end and somehow weave a bit more onto that end so that we can cling a little longer.  A little crisis here, a little crisis there gets us back to the bottom, but we add a little bit more so that we don’t have to let go just yet.  But then, something huge comes along (and the “huge-ness” of that event varies from person to person) and we finally quit trying to add onto our rope and we let go and fall.

Then we fall and fall and fall.

And fall some more, maybe….

But that bottom hits us hard and we are broken and battered and bruised.  And we wallow there for a while...

But eventually, somehow, we finally open our eyes and discover a bunch of other people gathered around us, reaching out to us to join them.  We think, “Where’d they come from??” Really, they have been there for a while waiting on us to open our eyes long enough to notice them.  These other people are people who have done the same thing too.  They fell down to the bottom of the pit and discovered someone else waiting on them.  What you do then is in many ways up to you.  You can close your eyes again and continue laying there or you can recognize that they want to help you get up, to hear what happened, to sit and listen for a while and when you are ready to share out of their own experience how they got there.  

And something we discover as we listen to them, instead of ourselves, is that Someone else is in the midst of them.  And we find out that He sent them to us to bring us to Himself. 

Yes, at the bottom of that pit with all of those other messed up people, we can find Jesus waiting for us that He might heal us and use us to bring him to other hurting people in that pit.  We get pulled into that community through our own crisis and find ourselves among others who have dealt with one crisis or another.  And in the midst of all of that we find the Church who is the one who brings us to Jesus when we need Him the most.