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Coming from a church that followed a liturgical calendar, Advent was always a focal point of the year. The Advent wreath was lit each Sunday for the 4 weeks before Christmas Eve/Day with kids and families doing a reading and lighting candles. Our message series always followed a theme (like hope, joy, peace, life), and it was a way to prepare our hearts for the true meaning of Christmas.
I wondered whether we’d find ourselves missing it now that we’re in this church planting endeavor.
I found out we do.
Today we worshiped with a local congregation that doesn’t follow the liturgical calendar. That’s fine, and I really don’t hold anything against them. The music was great and the preaching was solid, but everything was tied around the message of the cross and resurrection (even a video intro focused on the grace of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ).
Again, all true and essential foundations to Christianity; but we have salvation “All Because He Came!”
Theologians like to talk about the already/not yet of the Kingdom…meaning while Christ’s kingdom has already come, it’s not yet fully realized until He comes again. And in Advent, there certainly is a sense of that; the word “Advent” literally means “coming” in Latin. I am always quick to remind myself (and others) that we can’t celebrate Christ’s first Advent without looking with great anticipation to His Second Advent.
Even “Joy to the World” is about that Second Advent:
“Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
and heaven and nature sing…”
But in our rush to get to the hope of Easter and the resurrection, we can forget to pause and thank God that Jesus came.
Let’s celebrate that because He came, we have hope. What does Isaiah 40:29-31 say?
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
“You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem,lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness: ‘prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’”
Sounds like preparing for the coming (Advent) hope we have in Jesus!
So while I’m thankful for the gift of salvation, I want to thank God that because of His great love, Jesus came in the flesh.
Editor’s Note: Check out the @bibledude advent series, which will run each of the four Sunday’s of Advent and Christmas Eve.
Aaron Klein is a church plant pastor in the Reformed Church in America, a denomination with deep roots in the US and a strong emphasis on mission around the world. He served at a church in Pennsylvania for nine years before God called him and his family into the new and exciting journey of church planting.
His passion is to be a be a catalyst in the church planting movement that nurtures radical followers of Jesus Christ, that builds authentic communities of believers, and who genuinely loves others in word and deed. His desire is for the exponential growth of the church of Jesus Christ, and believes that will best happen when churches start churches who start churches.
He is honored to be married to his high-school sweetheart and has been blessed with four beautiful children. Together they reside in Lakewood Ranch, FL.