Faith column: Hope, Love, Joy, Peace, and Christ
Advent is observed in many churches today. It is a four-Sunday celebration leading up to Christmas Eve intending to help produce a month-long experience of longing for the coming of the Messiah.
For us, the longing is not for the first Advent of the Messiah, but rather the longing of His promised return; the second Advent of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is that Messiah who came to save the world. Jesus is the Messiah who promises to return and reign.
Typical Advent themes include: Hope, Love, Joy, Peace, and Christ.
Generally, each Sunday during Advent and on Christmas Eve, a pink, purple or white candle is lit and a reading recited corresponding to the theme of the day.
This week, our church will be focusing on the theme of Love.
The entire meaning of Christmas can be explained in one little four-letter word…LOVE. God sent a gift of pure love to us that first Christmas.
Love descended from heaven to be born of a virgin. Love lay in the scratchy hay of a manger in a meager barn in Bethlehem. All of God’s love, was robed in the delicate skin of a baby and wrapped in swaddling clothes.
This week of Advent helps us to reflect on the magnitude of love that was made manifest in Jesus.
Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Messiah, and Ruler of All, yet He came not as a lion but as a lamb. He came as an innocent baby whose purpose was to walk this earth in complete love and then to sacrificially give His life as an atonement for the sins of His children.
Emmanuel. God with us. Love in the form of a man.
There is no greater gift than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends. Jesus willingly gave the gift of His life because of love. His righteous blood covered our sin. He redeems and restores us when we turn from our brokenness and imperfection (our sin) and confess Him as Lord and Savior of our life. In that moment, we receive the gift of God’s love for all eternity. We receive grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy.
The greatest gift of all came that first Christmas. It wasn’t wrapped in a beautiful package and set under a decorated tree. The greatest gift came wrapped in the flesh of baby Jesus and laid in the rough wood of a manger. Our perfect gift would later be rewrapped in the scars of our sin and nailed to the rugged wood of a cross on Calvary, all because of love.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Pastor Len Browning is the lead pastor at Craig Journey Church, he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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