Christmastime already? Maybe the thought of Christmas programming, messages and events in your church or your family makes your heart race. That’s why, as the rush and crush of the season starts, I think it’s vital that we position ourselves well and clear the airspace of what distracts us from hearing all God wants to speak in this special season.
That starts with the Advent. When we planted Passion City Church seven years ago, I realized how vital it is for me as a pastor, and for the people of our house, to adopt this rhythm of intentional preparation leading up to Christmas Day.
The word “advent” means expectation. This four-week journey can create a sense of hope for us as we remember Israel’s expectant wait for the Savior, and God’s perfect provision.
I don’t know what you or your church is walking through right now, but I do know that all of us are stuck somewhere between the pain of this world and the promise of God. The common denominator in life is that something is perpetually not right, not perfect or not the way we had hoped or dreamed it would be. We live in the tension Paul so fittingly described in Romans 8:22-25 (NKJV):
For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
In this groaning world, to us groaning people, Jesus showed up. He wasn’t born in a palace on a perfect day. He was born in the middle of the night during tax season to an unwed couple in a stable. That was God’s way of showing us that nothing is perfect. Life is chaotic. It’s messy. That’s what Jesus was stepping into. He came to be the great light to people walking in darkness, and hope for those oppressed (Isa. 9:2-3).
We go from Malachi to Matthew in one page of our Scriptures, but that one piece of paper that separates the Old Testament from the New Testament represents 400 years of history—400 years where there wasn’t a prophet, 400 years where God’s voice wasn’t heard. And that silence was broken with the cry of a baby on Christmas night. That baby’s cry was proof of God’s working in those 400 years, and His faithful moving “behind the scenes” of history (Gal. 4:4-5).
Advent is the season that can remind us God is working while we’re waiting, and that we’re really waiting with God. And, if you’re waiting with God, waiting is OK. He has promised and proven that He will show the answer at just the right time (Mic. 7:7). God will use everything and every moment in this imperfect world to ultimately take us to a new heaven and a new earth (Rom. 8:28; Rev. 21).
For now, we’re stuck in the middle. These four Advent Sundays help us recognize that God is working in the middle that we’re stuck in. Even if we don’t see it, He’s moving underneath the surface, orchestrating His plans and purposes (2 Pet. 3:8-9). Four hundred years might go by, but never count God out.
- Let’s pray that we would anchor our comfort and hope in God’s promises this Advent season.
- Pray for hearts to be captivated by the beauty and power of Jesus this Christmas.
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