If you haven’t read my previous post, “4th Sunday of Advent asked to teach”. The following may not make much sense.
I was given a simple assignment. To fill in for our leader while they are away on vacation. The study we are following is written by a very educated man who obviously spends much of his time conversing with others in collegiate academics. What made this assignment so frustrating is that the author of our study has complicated Christmas. In his text he asks the question, “As a Christian are you celebrating Christmas, because of Christ, or are you celebrating secular celebration”? Have you taken time to realize that God used a young poor woman from the tiniest of villages in a stable of all places, to deliver into the world, a Savior (Emmanuel). And that this occurrence is really a pattern that God prefers to use. How often does he use the least amount his people to do the greatest of works.
These are good questions, awesome observations. But, I still believe the best message of Christmas is the simplest message. Jesus was brought into this world, because God loves us so much! His arrival marked a new time, a new covenant. One so loving that even the heavenly hosts rejoiced singing praises to the one and only Creator. If Christmas goes by and we celebrate the day but don’t take the time to acknowledge the day’s true meaning, then all of our preparation, joy and fellowship is worthless.
I have been asked to lead a discussion on the 4th Sunday in advent. Which in reality should be an easy assignment. After all, almost everyone I will be speaking to will be familiar with the advent wreath and candles and the significance of the evergreen and candles.
Yet as I was given the materials I would need to conduct my class, I was taken back by the complexities people have assigned to advent.
For example, when I was a boy, the candles represented hope, peace, joy and love. The attributes Christ displayed during his life and ministry. But now, I have seen these symbols distorted. Yes, I believe we should remember the prophesies, a promise made to God’s people. Yes, I believe we should consider the long wait as the world anticipated the Messiah ‘ s arrival, the joy that night expressed in Heaven and on Earth as Jesus entered this world. But as I continue to prepare my for Sunday. I am noticing more and more focus being put on Elizabeth, Mary, the town Bethlehem, wise men, angels, shepherds. Entire lessons and focus being given to what amounts to minor players. I have great admiration for Mary and a ton of respect for Joseph. I love account of Angels proclaiming the good news to the lowliest of people. That picture, in my mind gives me chills. Still the focus of advent is and should always be on God and his love for us and what we learned about God through the life of Christ. I think it is critical to remember and reflect on the attributes of the Father demonstrated by the Son. Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. Focus on the other things during epiphany, right now is a time to focus all attention on the Father and his only begotten Son.
Jesus said”I am with you, even unto the end of the world”. As a Christian these words are well known, yet as a seeker of Christ, I feel alone. It happens enough that I would call it “ordinary”. I can easily understand why some touched by the Holy Spirit can find it very difficult to stay the course. Honestly it does feel like, that at our weakest and most frightening moments. there is a feeling of isolation. I never suppose or assume to know God’s mind or will, but from what I do know, God actually wants the opposite for us. He desires to be such a meaningful part of our lives that we become utterly dependent on him for everything. Not just the big things, but in all things. So if I believe that is what God wants, then our seperation has to be related to my free will and choices I have made. Surely God’s grace is more than capable of restoring our relationship to an intimate level he so desperately desires. The only problem is finding the first step back to him. After sincere repentance and prayer, still there is a feeling of loneliness, despair and frustration. “What am I doing wrong”!!!! Leaps through my head and heart as I continue to seek him and the peace, joy and love he promises to all whom follow him. Thus. I am left with a feeling, I know is a lie. I know I am not alone, even if it feels that way. I know vigilant pursuit will merit the rewards I seek. In His time, always in His time. Some time, a week, a month, a year, maybe longer. I truly hope I can go back to this post and share it with the Love of my life, my best friend and savior. Until then, I will wait and pursue this quest despite the darkness tempting me to quit. If the Bible has taught me anything it is that I am one of his most prized creations, His love is unconditional and ready to be received. I know He is as anxious as I am to finally come together as Father and son.