Advent 1

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Sermon: 

There has been a lot of chatter in this strangest of years about Christmas being cancelled. Christmas 2020 will of course be like no other, but it certainly isn’t cancelled, and allowing this season of advent to prepare us for the core elements of Christmas, those underpinning truths which are not impacted by lockdowns and tiered restrictions, is an opportunity to be welcomed.

In advent, we prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming, his incarnation as Immanuel, God with us.  We also look ahead to Jesus’ final coming as judge.  We reconnect again with the battle between good and evil, light and darkness.  It is a season of repentance, a time when we expose our hearts in preparation to meet with a holy God.  The introduction to the confession in advent states:

When the Lord comes,

he will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness,

and will disclose the purposes of the heart.

Therefore, in the light of Christ let us confess our sins.

And the introduction to the peace speaks of the tender mercy of God, who in Christ gives light to those who dwell in darkness. 

Thinking back to Jesus’ first coming is good.  We’re able to reflect on the salvation of the world, on themes of redemption and hope.  Thinking forward to his coming again is more of a challenge, but it helps us to reconnect with why the incarnation was necessary.  Jesus needed to come as light of the world, because the world was dark.  It still is.  We look around us and know that the kingdom of heaven which Jesus inaugurated on earth is not yet fully here, darkness still prevails, we need him to come again, this year more than ever. To know Immanuel, God with is, in the midst of this pandemic, will bring the comfort and joy we crave.

The word advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his first advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his second advent. So, advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It’s celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation can be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the fullness of which we anticipate.

Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from evil, and a hope, however faint at times, that God, however distant he sometimes seems, will bring love, compassion, justice and freedom to the world.

Advent is primarily about hope that human existence has meaning and possibility beyond our present experiences, a hope that the limits of our lives are not nearly as narrow as we experience them to be. God is a God of new things and so in him all things are possible.

And it all begins in the hope that God will come and come again into our world to reveal himself as God of newness, of possibility, a God of new things. This time of year we contemplate that hope embodied, enfleshed, incarnated, in a new-born baby, the perfect example of newness, potential, and possibility. During advent, we groan and long for that newness with the hope, the expectation, indeed the faith, that God will once again be faithful to see our circumstances, to hear our cries, to know our longings for a better world. He will come to be with us.

These elements of our Christian and Christmas story are not cancelled. We may not be able to shop, sing carols together or celebrate in large numbers, but we can prepare our hearts for the coming of Immanuel. And we really need to live in hope and share it this year!

Questions:

  • How will you mark advent differently this year, using these different circumstances to discover new ways to pray creatively?
  • How can we share the message of hope in advent in a way that brings comfort and joy to others?

 


Page last updated: 16th November 2020 2:41 PM
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