Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent, Week 1: HELP IS ON THE WAY!

The Lord says, "The time is coming when I will do the good thing I promised to the people of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time, I will make a good branch sprout from David's family. He will do what is fair and right in the land. At that time Judah will be saved, and the people of Jerusalem will live in safety. The branch will be named: "The Lord Does What Is Right." (Jeremiah 33:14-16, NCV)

Raised in the Catholic tradition, one of my favorite parts of the Christmas Season is the observance of Advent. Meaning "the coming" in Latin, the four weeks before Christmas are a time of forced reflection on who this babe in the manger is and what His life on Earth means. Over the years, I have grown to the point where I arrive at Christmas Day feeling disappointed and like I've let time slip through my hands when I have neglected Advent's deliberate practice. I feel like I missed the entire significance and meaning of why we celebrate this time of year.

Traditionally, the theme of the first week of Advent is hope. How very appropriate! This one word describes the unique gift that salvation through Jesus of Nazareth has to offer. God's Word (and Jesus is named as "The Word" in John 1:1) oozes with hope throughout.

In this point in history, we have the great privilege of seeing many things in the Scriptures from the perspective of fulfillment. We see promises made and kept by God. We see prophecies made and come-true about God. We, in developed nations, have the gift of reading those words in numerous translations and languages, giving us the opportunity to better understand the Message. This all should bolster our faith, filling us with great hope. God's word is true! The probability of one man fulfilling just eight of the hundreds of prophecies made about Jesus the Messiah would be 10 to the 17th power!

The hope engendered by God's truth is more than just "I hope that everybody's happy with the gifts I bought them this year," or "I hope that this Christmas party is fun." It's the joyful anticipation of knowing that everything will work out in this life and will be problem-free in the next life. It's the blessed assurance that belief in Jesus' saving grace guarantees our citizenship in Heaven. It's the comfort of knowing we are deeply loved, never forsaken or forgotten. It's the deep gratitude of realizing each and every life, including ours and our children's, have infinite worth and purpose.

The Creator of the Universe didn't just solve our problems from arm's length. He came into our world and got dirty, becoming one of us. He shouted, "Help is on the way," and then delivered. Pondering these profound facts ought to foster in us hope beyond all measure!

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