Life Notes—November 29, 2012
“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24-25
This Sunday begins the church’s season of Advent—the four-week preparation for the birth of Christ, the physical manifestation of God into our world. It is the coming of Emmanuel, or God with us. Each Sunday in Advent has its own theme and the theme of the first Sunday is Hope. If we presume that our spiritual preparations for Christmas equate with the gift-buying, candy-making, home decorating, party attending frenzy typically equated with Christmas preparations, we miss the mark entirely. Advent is a time to prepare ourselves, spiritually, for the (re)birth of Christ into our lives. It involves a tremendous gift, but not one we can buy in any store at any price. The gift will not be advertised in any newspaper or flyer, nor are there long lines in which to wait to receive it. The gift simply comes to all who earnestly seek it. Yet it is not given to us as much as born into us, to live with and as us for all our days.
And like most gifts, the gift of Christ sometimes loses its luster, its newness, its appeal. Day to day life enters in and time with the gift of Christ in our lives becomes less of a priority. And so we drift away to a point where Emmanuel—God with us—becomes something we think about on occasional Sunday mornings, but is far from what was intended—a living presence participating in everything we are and do. Having Jesus born into our lives is intended to be like growing another limb. We no longer come to church to be reminded of Christ, we come to church because our constant relationship with Christ draws us toward others in similar relationships with Christ. Praise is best when shared. While Christmas is, at its heart, a celebration of the birth of Jesus into our world, Advent is a time to prepare for the birth of Jesus into our lives. Not a corporate birth into the inclusive life of the human world, but a very personal, very intrusive birth into my life, and into your life, and into each individual life who desires it.
So, as you dream of Christmas this year, dedicate significant time to plan for your relationship with the Holy One. And, as Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, remember that we are saved in hope—not hope in what we can see, but in what is unseen. So, don’t be afraid to dream large about this gift. Dream, and then wait for it with patience and expectancy and hope.
Tom will be preaching downtown this Sunday where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is in the sanctuary at 8:30 and 11:00. Mitch preaches at the west campus where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday. Come in hope and truly prepare for the season…
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator