Greetings in the Name of Jesus our King:
The cold weather finally seems to be upon us and you might be thinking (or singing), “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” But hold on a moment. It is Advent! Much ink (or perhaps: many pixels) has been spilled over the past years about a supposed “War on Christmas,” suggesting that the Christian Festival of Christ’s Birth has been usurped by secular society and has become something other than it ought to be. I might argue that another battle we face is the War on Advent. While Christmas has become palatable to even non-Christians because it evokes celebration, family time, and gift giving; Advent is another story. The attitude of the season of Advent is one of sober preparation and self-examination. In other words, the event of the Birth of the Christ-Child is so important to our salvation – indeed, it is so earth shattering – that we ought get ready for it. And so, the Season of Advent exists for that purpose.
Let’s say you were throwing a party. Before the celebration can take place one might insist that food and drinks are prepared and the house is cleaned up. This is standard procedure, examination, and preparation for the event. Now, what if you found out that your favorite celebrity or some greatly esteemed person was going to be present? Wouldn’t you ramp up your preparations and presentation? Surely, you would.
In Advent we are getting ready to welcome the Christ-Child. We commemorate the coming of Jesus born in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago. We also look to the day when that same Jesus, King of the Universe, will return in glory – once and for all – and usher in the new heavens and new earth— eternal life for us. Advent serves as an opportunity for us to prepare our hearts and minds to better receive the greatest Gift and most important Person of all: Jesus in the flesh.
Now what does this preparation look like? Self-improvement? Being as externally “good” as possible? Not quite. Rather, our preparation in Advent is recognizing that we are poor sinners and that the coming of Jesus is not just “nice” but absolutely necessary to deal with our sins. When facing the reality that the King of all creation is on His way can be terrifying. If we are being honest, there is nothing we as individuals can do to prepare and stand upright in the King’s presence. But the Holy Spirit can. Led by Him in the Word, admitting our brokenness in confession and receiving forgiveness in absolution we do assume the correct disposition to receive the King: on our knees and empty handed. And when He comes He lifts us up by His own strength and gives us the gift of life forever with Him. With that Good News we sing with the angels: Hallelujah — Praise be to God!
For your preparation this year, I encourage you to attend as many of our Advent and Christmastide services as you can. We will gather during Advent for our Midweek Morning Matins Services looking at “The Annunciations of Saint Luke” (The Annunciation of St. John the Baptist and of Jesus) on Wednesday mornings at 9am with our school children. Our School Advent Service (“God’s Loving Kindness of Salvation: Jesus!”) will be on December 20th at 9am and 7pm.
We will gather on Sunday, December 24th at 9:30am for the 4th Sunday of Advent and that evening, Christmas Eve, at 7:00pm for the Service of Lessons and Carols. The Christmas Day Holy Communion Service will be at 9:30am. We will gather on Sunday, December 31st, to celebrate the 1st Sunday after Christmas at 9:30am.
God bless you these Advent & Christmas Seasons. Your King comes to you.
Pastor Steven J. Anderson