This past weekend, I had the privilege of being invited to preach at Omaha Memorial Church, a very diverse church community (over 30 different countries represented) from the Seventh-day Adventist...
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.”
This is a reflection in particular to those of us that don’t have the custom of Advent as a liturgical season in our churches.
Advent doesn’t have to necessarily be in our official liturgy like it is in other churches, but in our hearts, we should reflect upon the sentiments and expectations of the Israelites prior to Christ’s first Advent. What was it like to live under an oppressive Roman regime during the inter-testamental period? A period where prophets were silent, the scriptures seemed to only enhance the longing for Israel’s ultimate restoration and hope was altogether dwindling?
Advent should encourage us and motivate us to think that once Christ came into the world, all the hopes of Israel came, but they came gently and quietly in the form of a baby. The God of the Universe demonstrated that his ways are much higher than our ways and his thoughts much different than our thoughts. He would bring redemption not only to Israel proper, but to the whole world through a fellow human being and yet, Immanuel, God with us.
Advent teaches us to forgo of consumerism during this period in favor of helping the needy, the lost and oppressed. A help that might not come by any grand demonstration or fanfare, but could be as small as a little baby’s warm touch or soft cooing. Just like He grew into maturity and changed the world, our small acts of kindness, help and love could grow into something huge as well.
Advent should be a season that directs our thoughts toward his second Advent as well, a time where all our current hopes, dreams and longings will ultimately be fulfilled and we will be able to live in a world free of greed, hate and death and we will be forever in the presence of our loving creator and redeemer.
May this month of reflection bring us closer to what it means to wait for His advent. So while we are at it, let’s redo Advent and Christmas together: