So, Christmas is coming and is here. I love this time of year. It was Christmas 1989 that I re-commited my life to Jesus. I can still remember the large Nativity scene in the Church, in Kingussie, the flickering candles of the watchnight service and the peace of the walk back to my dorm in the Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore. I was once more reconciled to my Heavenly Father, the message of Christmas was never so real.
Fast forward 25 years and we find ourselves in a different world, fear and uncertainty are rife on the worlds news pages. The media or those who control it are sowing doubt every year in order to try and reduce Christmas to nothing but a commercial gift buying holiday. Yet when I see the satrs in the sky, when I smell the Christmas spices, when the flikering lights of candles fill our living room again, I am drawn, deeper and closer to the one who set me free.
Religion celebrates Advent, (Adventus) in Latin, this translates as Coming.
Advent in Greek is (Perusia) and translates as second coming.
Being drawn by these things, perhaps I am bias, but I don't see religion in these things. Perhaps the heart of who we are and how we approach these things is more important. If we, for example were to put Easter and the resurrection under the same category, we would then be bound by doing things a certain way, yet we all have Easter services, gatherings that bring together the Church, celebrating our Risen Savior. This is the heart of the event. Therefore, the heart of the event, the outlook of the people is what defines the relationship with God and seperates it from a religious ceremony.
Week 1 of Advent addresses "Hope". The old testement prophet Isaiah says the following:
Isaiah 40: 1-5.
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD ; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
This is the Comfort that the world needs, this is what Israel missed, and sill looks for today.
The search for a potlitical Messiah will of course be ongoing until the True Messiah returns, but we have a greater hope, a hope that the world so desperatly needs, a hope that will not, does not fail or fade and an everlasting promise that we will never be seperated from him, regardless of the worlds condition.
Romans 15:12 , 'And again Isaiah says, The root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the gentiles will hope in him'.
Isaiah went on to prophesy that, the rest of the world will have access to this hope, access to Christ, this is the Hope of Christmas.
Jesus the hope to the gentiles, Col 1:27 "To them God has chosen to make known among the gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ in you the hope of glory".
Jesus is the hope of Glory in you and I. So This week, this first week of Advent, hold on to the Hope of Jesus, keep your eyes fixed on the Hope of the Lord, his, everlasting hope, his Truth and his peace.
I hope this finds a place in your hearts and gives you a focus on the season that will remain unshakeable as we live and serve our God.
In Jesus Precious and Glorious name.