December 01, 2008

Advent

"I can't WAIT until Christmas Eve!"

That's what my daughter said to me, the day after Thanksgiving. It struck me as a bit unusual, since it's Christmas day when we open our presents. But she's looking forward to the excitement on Christmas Eve. The traditions we have. The anticipation.

That's what Advent is -- anticipation. Waiting. And knowing that what we are waiting for is worth the wait, no matter how long it will be.

Think about the nation of Israel. They were promised a Deliverer, a Messiah. They knew He was coming. They waited for him.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited. They waited so long that they forgot what they were being delivered from. They forgot the point, and decided He was coming to deliver them from the Romans. But they still waited.

In Luke 2, we read about Simeon, a man who had been promised a look at that Deliverer before he died. When he saw the Christ child, he rejoiced, knowing that the Deliverer had come. The wait had been worth it.

We've become an impatient people. Our high speed Internet is still too slow -- I can remember when I upgraded to a 56k modem from our old 14.4, and I still think that my new, high speed cable connection is slow at times. We don't like to wait at all.

Sometimes we think we are waiting for something that will never come. We decide we must have misunderstood someone somewhere, and that what we're waiting for isn't coming at all. We think we may have missed it completely; it came already, when we weren't looking, and we didn't notice it. We keep waiting, we think, in vain for something that isn't coming. Or we give up completely, and stop anticipating.

We're promised something in Scripture; we're promised that "This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)" We anticipate that coming, just as Israel anticipated His first coming. We don't know when it will happen, in spite of some really ridiculous things that we say about him coming in, oh, say, 1988, or 2000, or 2012. We don't know when He's coming back. Sometimes, we think that we've missed it; that the Preterists are right, and He really came back in 70AD and nobody seems to have noticed it. Sometimes we think that maybe He isn't coming back after all. But we've got that promise in Acts. He's coming back just like He left.

As we enter this season of Advent, the season of anticipation, let's remember that we still have something to look forward to. And celebrate, because it will be worth all the waiting we've done.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 01:55 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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December 04, 2005

Advent Week 2: Peace

{I'm changing the way I label these Advent posts, so that where they fit in with the liturgy will be obvious. I'll change the first one so it will fit in.}

In my last Advent post, I talked about our anticipation -- Christ brings us hope, both in His first coming (the hope of forgiveness from sins) and in His second (the hope of ultimate redemption of all creation). This week I want to talk about peace.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 ESV

What kind of peace do we have in Christ? When we look around the world, we see just as clearly as Longfellow did that "hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men." If Christ came to bring us an immediate, temporal peace, then His mission failed.

But wait a minute. What did Christ Himself say? ""Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword."

I think the answer lies in Christ's words in John 14. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." He doesn't give peace as the world gives it -- the peace of Christ is an eternal peace. It is the peace of the Gospel -- Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, the atonement for our sins. This is the peace that He gave us in His first coming.

We anticipate the day to come, when the rule and reign of Christ will bring true peace to earth. Sickness and disease will be gone. Warfare will be no more. Everyone will live in peace because we will be ruled by the Prince of Peace. When all of creation is redeemed, we will live in harmony with each other -- that is the ultimate result of Christ's atonement, and the peace that we will live in is the peace of the Gospel of Christ.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 02:13 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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November 21, 2005

Advent Week 1

I've been thinking a lot about how we celebrate Christmas, and how to make that celebration more joyful and fulfilling, while still focusing on Christmas as the birth of Christ. My wife and I have been talking about a family celebration of Advent for a few years now, and I think that this year is the year to start it.

more...

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 04:27 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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