O Faithful God, I could not have survived this day without you. Bring to mind, Eternal God, the names of people in my life who are in need of prayer. Show me ways that I can encourage them. In the stillness of this night, help me to be still. Still my thoughts, fears, and worries that I might rest. Place your loving arms around me during this night and protect me from all harm. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Daily Archives: December 19, 2021
Psalm 24:1-6 (ESV)
The King of Glory
24 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.Selah
Luke 21:25-28 (ESV)
The Coming of the Son of Man
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
The Advent journey is one that does not take us the route that culture has defined. The culture has created a season that is filled with the anticipation of celebrations, parties, gatherings, presents, and glittering lights. Do not misunderstand me – I love all of the culturally traditional things of the Advent and Christmas season, as well as anyone else. I have my own family traditions and I enjoy them immensely.
Part of those traditions lead us to Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when many people pause and gaze at the Nativity in the sanctuary, as we lift our candles and sing, “Silent Night.” It is a peaceful and joyous reminder to Christians that at one distinct point in history, in a very real sense – the God of the cosmos became Incarnate. In other words, God took on the form of a baby in order to become “God with us” in a very radically different way. He became one of us. You cannot get anymore radical than that.
Indeed, it is good to remember one of the most significant events of human history. How many times have we heard the Gospel account and seen the children of the church enact that moment when shepherds on a hillside suddenly encountered a choir of the Heavenly Hosts, who proclaimed that God had come, that the Messiah had been born, and that God was indeed doing something new. Salvation had come! Redemption had come! Oh, this is indeed blessed news!
But is that all there is to the Advent season? A time to remember a distant event that happened thousands of years ago? The answer of the Church is a resounding no! In fact, what we learn is that this is probably the part of Advent that we should focus the least amount of attention on. I am not saying that it is unimportant. But what I am saying, and the Church has said throughout the ages – the story is not finished with the birth of Christ-child. This was the beginning of the story, not the end of the story.
Luke’s Gospel reminds us that there is a day that is coming that will be so cataclysmic from what the world knows as normal. It will be something that is so unique, so powerful, that it will literally shake the heavens and the earth. It will be something so remarkable that “people will faint with foreboding” with what is coming. That event will be so altering that it will change everything.
This passage in Luke is a traditional passage for the Church during the Advent season. Though, at first, it may seem like a scripture passage that seems out of place, it is anything but. You see, the season of Advent brings to the reality the truth that we who dwell on this side of eternity, dwell in an age that has seen something quite miraculous happen, we are also keeping an eye East because we know that the rest of the story is yet to be written.
But you see, for those of us who are truly in the faith – this is not a time of foreboding and fear. In fact, Jesus’ words to the faithful are these: “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” You see, for those who live in darkness, this will be a great time of foreboding, but for those of us who are in Christ, this time will be a great time of true, joyous celebration. Where the world may fear, the Christian rejoices! Why?
Because we know how the story ends! We know that there will come a day where this baby, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, is now exulted and has been given power and dominion over all that was, all that is, and all that ever will be. We know that Jesus, because of the resurrection, has been given the title of King of kings and Lord of lords. And we KNOW with absolute certainty that one day, this King will return and it will shake the foundations of the heavens because when he returns, with a brilliant flash of light, all the darkness that has had its day since the Fall in the Garden of Eden – will be completely destroyed! All of the forces of evil, of sin and death, will be completely eradicate. Oh yes, darkness has lost and God’s paradise and perfect reign will come and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
Yes, the signs leading up to that time may seem frightening, and like I mentioned, in the eyes of the world, they will be cataclysmic, but for the Christian, Jesus reminds us “People of faith – don’t be like the rest of the world – lift up your heads! You know what has been foretold and what we are fixing to inherit will be far better than anything that we will ever have here on this earth.” Yes, the best is yet to come!
So, how does this play into Advent? Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection – we know that there is more of the story to be written. Ours is the task to prepare for that great and glorious day when our King, our Lord will one day come back through the clouds to bring us, his children, home. If we have prepared as we ought, we know that this is not a time to fear. It is not a time to dread – it is a time of excitement and celebration! It is a time of joy! One day, we will eternally dwell with our God and he will dwell with us – never to be separated again.
As we journey through Advent season, how are you preparing your hearts, not only to receive the baby, but to receive your king? People of faith, look East and look up with excitement – for the best is yet to come!
As the hymn of faith reminds us:
Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
behold, the King of glory waits;
the King of kings is drawing near; the Savior of the world is here!
Fling wide the portals of your heart;
make it a temple, set apart
from earthly use for heaven’s employ,
adorned with prayer and love and joy.
Redeemer, come, with us abide;
our hearts to thee we open wide;
let us thy inner presence feel;
thy grace and love in us reveal.
Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
until our glorious goal is won;
eternal praise, eternal fame
be offered, Savior, to thy name!