“Prophesy, The One To Come”
Believe it or not, this is the start of Advent! Less than one month until the Christmas day. Less than one month left to shop, to go to parties, to see family, to wrap gifts, to deliver gifts, to receive gifts, to send cards, to see concerts, to sing carols, to decorate, to put up the tree, to make room to put up the tree, to clean the area you just cleared to make room for the tree, to cook, to eat, eat and eat… less than one month.
Am I helping your stress level at all?
If this coming month is a season of stress for you, I invite you to join us in a season of PEACE. We will enter into a month where we will join in anticipation for what is to come, the true reason we celebrate, the true reason why we get together with loved ones.
That is, of course, for the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The problem is, the secular grip on Christmas works against the natural need of our souls at this time. For some people, when they look at their calendar when they flip it to December in a few days, they will see nothing but ink all over the page telling them of everything they need to do, and they will wish for January 1st to come as quickly as possible.
That’s not right. Our souls, our spirituality, our desire to connect with our God, we need time to prepare our spirit within us for the celebration of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, he who has come among us to heal our broken lives and bring us back in to fellowship with our God.
So we will begin to celebrate the PEACE of the season right here, right now. We will focus on the one who gives life, the one the rest of the world likes to push out of the way.
Over the next few weeks we will look at preparing ourselves for this gift we have been given. Advent is a time to remind ourselves of the greatest gift ever given to the world, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We will look at the Prophesies of the Old Testament. We will look at the Expectation of a Saviour to come. We will look at the Announcements made as he was about to come. We will Celebrate with our children and our choir. And we will welcome Emmanuel to the world on Christmas Eve. Through all this we will remind ourselves of the PEACE we require to quiet our hearts and prepare our spirit as we come to remind ourselves and to receive this gift again.
I don’t know about you, but I cherish every chance I get to be still in this busy season. I take every advantage I can to just sit and be reminded of the gift we have been given. The good thing about everything that’s going on is that the world is really beautiful this time of year. We decorate our homes so nicely. The streets are lit with colourful lights everywhere. If there’s snow, it just adds another layer of peace and wonder.
All of this just makes it easier to enjoy those silent moments, to give thanks for the blessings we have. For me, all of this just reminds me daily of the blessing of God, shown to us in his son.
This promise of a Saviour was known to the Jewish people before Jesus was born. He was expected, we can just look to the Old Testament to learn about the promised one. There are a number of predictions, or prophesies, in the Old Testament, particularly in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. So we know people were looking for a Messiah to come and save the world.
In our reading this morning from Isaiah we read one of those prophesies and we learn about what this Messiah would do.
The prophet started the section we read today by saying,
“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.”
The world, not unlike today, was a sinful place. People lived in poverty and despair; people did things that broke God’s commandments; there was a great divide between the rich and the poor. I’m so glad we got all that cleared up!
Isaiah writes letting those who live in oppression that there is hope. The darkness they find themselves in today, there is a promise of a light, something to chase away their darkness. The promise is the coming of a Messiah.
The promise Isaiah shares with the following words,
“For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
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.”
We hear the words coming from the Old Testament, and every year we hear and remember the stories around the birth of Christ. This is a time for us to renew our hearts, to fill our spiritual buckets so to speak. A time when we seek to know the baby born in a manger because his life is a gift to the whole world.
So where to begin? Where to start preparing ourselves?
There are a number of ways in which we can prepare our hearts to remind ourselves of the gift God gave the world. The easiest way is to simply immerse ourselves in the scriptures. To read about the promises of the coming Messiah in the Old Testament. To read about the build-up to his birth. To read about his life and what he taught us.
If you aren’t sure where to start, it might help to find a devotional book written for Advent. There are many out there. Pick one up, or find one on the internet. Find a good one which includes scripture readings and meaningful stories which speak to you and maybe includes a prayer. It might even take you a few tries to find one that works best for you.
As nice as it might be to buy one of those calendars with the daily chocolates in it, that’s not exactly preparing yourself to welcome Jesus into your heart. Sure they’re nice, but sometimes you might need just a little more.
These quiet moments with scripture and words of wisdom are very important this time of year. There is so much demand on our time, we get so busy, it’s easy to lose the focus we need this season.
This is a wonderful time to come and know Jesus Christ. This is the happy celebration of Advent. It’s not like Lent where we tend to be more penitent, more self critical, even sad at times. It’s not a time of sacrifice, it’s a time of celebration! This is the good news of Jesus Christ.
This is when we sing the wonderful songs. Our church is brightly and beautifully decorated. We read the wonderful stories of his birth. These next few weeks are some of the most beautiful and meaningful services of the year. It is a time of wonder and anticipation for what is to come.
This is also the time when we can share this great gift we have been given. This is a time when people are most open to hearing about Jesus Christ, this is a time when more people tend to go to church. This is clearly a time when the world actually seeks out Jesus Christ. He may not be their focus, but they are certainly open to the story and remembering his birth.
So I’m going to ask you to be a little more bold over the next few weeks. I’m going to suggest that you might consider asking people if they would like to come and experience some PEACE in the busyness of the season. Invite them to church on Sunday morning. Invite them to our potluck dinner on the 10th and say there’s nothing they need to bring, because we’ll have lots of food.
Invite people to join us in hearing the story again. Help them to see just how important Jesus Christ is in our lives, and maybe they will want to experience him more as they new year turns.
Let us all be filled with the PEACE only the Prince of Peace can offer.