Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Advent and Christmas Message

A scripture reading in Advent cries out "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!" (Isa 64:1). It sounds kind of impatient. At this time of year many children are feeling just like that about Christmas. "O that Christmas morning would just get here!"

During Advent we in the church put our brakes on, we try not to rush to Christmas morning the way much of the world does. We often lament the commercialization of Christmas. It seems that many stores hang the Christmas decorations and start playing the Christmas music earlier every year. I heard a news report this year that said some retailers were getting an early start on the Christmas season to get us out spending our money before we're shocked by the expected increase in our heating bills.

Isaiah's cry was that God would come down, that we would see God's powerful presence, that God would appear and we would mend our sinful ways. When we look at the state of our world, at wars happening in numerous places, at corrupt governments causing their people to suffer, when we see people hungry, people dying from preventable diseases, sometimes we want to call God down to straighten the whole mess out.

In Advent we look forward to God coming down. We look forward to the celebration of Christmas when the Son of God emptied himself and was born as one of us, as a poor baby without much of a roof over his head. Not exactly shock and awe, not exactly a powerful presence forcing us to mend our sinful ways.

We await the child in the manger and we await the glorious Son of God returning at the end of time. The first coming was a gift that reconciled us to God and each other. The second coming will restore all that we've messed up. That's not to say we sit back now and wait. We, who have been saved by God's grace, ought to communicate that Good News far and wide and work for the health and well being of our community and our world.

The Advent season is a time of anticipation but we're not waiting for something unknown. We know that for Christians the expectations of the prophets were fulfilled in the manger. We know how Advent ends but we always greet Christmas and greet Christ with amazement and delight. We also know that Christmas is a beginning, not an ending. We sing "Christ, the Saviour, is born!" and we proclaim "Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again." The anticipation continues.

God bless your Advent and may you have a Merry Christmas.

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