Dear Fellow Children of God,
The Thanksgiving holiday is over and this Sunday begins the season of Advent, the season of preparation for the coming of Jesus. Advent prepares us for the celebration of Christmas.
What are your plans and hopes for Christmas this year? Like many families we worship, we decorate our home, and we plan a family get together. And, like many families we celebrate Christmas as we exchange gifts. Kathy and I have already received a couple of lists from family. Obviously, these lists are appreciated because they help us to shop. But, just because there is an item on someone’s list, does not mean the person receives that item. Sometimes there may be more gifts on a list than we could buy. Sometimes we may think we have a better idea. So, lists share the list writer’s hope, but receiving the items on the list is not a sure thing.
This past week in my personal devotions I was reading from 1 Peter. In chapter 1, verses 3 and 4 tell us, 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-- kept in heaven for you. The devotional writer used these verses to point to a different view of hope. “How do you define hope? While some in our culture frame the word in terms of wishful thinking, the Bible uses it to refer to certainties we have not yet received.”
The people of Jesus’ time hoped for the Messiah. They knew God had promised to send a Savior. They hoped he would come. But, they did not know how God would send the one for whom they waited and hoped.
Even though the answer to their hopes was unknown, God’s promises were sure. The Savior came in a miraculous birth as a baby in a manger. He came to live in obedience to His heavenly Father and in love for all. Jesus came to die on the cross and to rise again. The Messiah did not come as the Jewish people expected. But, God promised and His promises are sure.
Advent prepares us for all the ways that Jesus comes to us. Christians don’t just celebrate the wondrous birth of God’s promised Messiah. We celebrate that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us always. We rejoice that Jesus will come again and bring us to ”the inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade.”
The trials of life may cause us to be unsure God’s love or His presence in our lives. But, God’s promises are sure. Jesus did come. He is with us. He has heaven waiting. The assurance of God’s presence and love gives us sure hope in a world that is unsure.
When it comes to Christmas gifts a person is never sure what their gifts will be. But, the love of the giver is sure, no matter how big or how expensive the gift. In Advent we remember the promises of God which are not uncertain, but sure. God’s promises fill us with hope that helps us to live each day in the love of God.
A Child of God, Living in a Sure Hope of God’s Coming for our Lives,
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.