December 2, 2018


Today is the first Sunday in Advent.  Advent, which means “coming” is all about waiting for the one who is to come.  For these four Sundays, it is as if we are waiting along with the ancient ones for the coming of the Messiah.  We are looking towards the baby’s advent into our world, into our lives.  This anticipation of what the baby Jesus’ birth means for you and me is palpable during these days.  We can feel the wonder of God’s arrival in the air.

It is this wonder upon which we can ponder during these cold days and dark endless nights.  These shortening days of impending winter give us the time, if we take it to truly think upon the miraculous event, which we are waiting to celebrate.  Walking under the crisp, twinkling stars of December we can, as the hymn shows, wonder as we wander.

There are so many questions we can ponder and even wrestle with at this time.  Why was God willing to come down and live as a human?  Why would God offer salvation freely, as a gift?  And why then did God come as an innocent babe, as one so defenseless and weak?  God, the master of the universe, humbled himself to the point of helplessness, for our sake.  Why?

Well because, we tend to mess things up for ourselves and for the world.  The nature of original sin is that in the end we fail. Of course we humans do many wonderful things too, it is part of our duality, it is a part of the paradox of what it means to be a human.

For instance, we rejoice when a new lifesaving drug is invented, or we explore a new crater on Mars via the Mars Rover, or peace blooms in a war-torn land because of our work.  Yet too often the good becomes subsumed in the bad, like when that new life-saving drug costs too much, so that it is unaffordable to those whom need it.  Or, the science that landed the Mars rover is also being used in weapons.  And the peace too often is of short-duration because the ideology and hate of one group becomes more important than the lack of war and human suffering achieved by the peace.

Since the beginning of time humanity’s individual and corporate decisions have caused both joy and thanksgiving, as well as sadness and despair.  As humans, we live in the middle of a paradox.  No matter how much good we do, in the end, humanity messes up.  In the end we fail.

For instance, certain parts of the human community whom have great hope for the future, and the good that is coming about through advances in science, the increases in interconnectivity created by globalization, and the sharing of cultures and ideas we are experiencing.  Yet, at the same moment there are other parts of the world’s people whom are living in the midst of great fear, because of the unknown future that scientific advancements, increased globalization and migration also brings.  Some people desire change, others simply want the status quo.

So, things are looking very chaotic politically, across Europe, in America, and around the world.  As people live in this paradox of hope and fear, leaders of every stripe and ilk are being elected or taking power.  Some promise the good life in a future made better by their hopes, and others highlight the ‘golden days’ of the past as a way to deal with the fear of their supporters, promising a return to those ‘better’ times.  People are, both hopeful and fearful of the future, including us Christians.

The good thing is, God is willing to listen to us, both to our pleas for help, and our prayers of hope, because God understands us.  God knew our innate faults when he created us and set us loose upon the earth as humanity.  We are people gifted and cursed with the ability to make choices for ourselves through free will.  So when we fail, God is willing to listen to our cries for help and be there in the way that God knows will work best.

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day Jewish society was falling apart and King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was in the process of totally conquering the Jewish people.  As a political entity they ceased to exist at this point.  Life was bad.  So the people cried out to the Lord and the Lord heard the people’s cries.

In this morning’s text from Jeremiah, Jeremiah prophesied that the Lord would surely, in the future, bring his people salvation.  The prophecy ended with these words, “The Lord is our righteousness.”

God gave a promise to Jeremiah and the Jewish people for their future.  This promise gave them hope, for their future.

Jesus’ help is in the answers to my Advent questions of: Why was God willing to come down and live as a human?  Why would God offer salvation freely, as a gift?  And why then did God come as an innocent babe, as one so defenseless and weak?

God needed to come down and live as a human, because we don’t have the power to make our way up to him.  And without our experience of relating to God as a human, in the person of Jesus Christ there is no way that we can truly grasp God’s love for us, as his beloved creation.  Almighty God is too awesome and fear inspiring to allow us the realization that we, weak and mistake prone humans, are the apple of God’s eye and the center of his heart.  It is the reality of his full love for us that shows us why the salvation that is ours is a free gift.  Love is not based upon payments and achievement, but upon grace and forgiveness.

And that’s why I think God arrived amongst us as a little baby, we need to understand that just as Jesus gave himself into our midst as one needing to depend upon others for total care, so too must we allow ourselves to be cared for by God.  God has it all under control, all we must do, all we can do is follow, in faith, and believe.

So you see, as we live and struggle in our lives with the successes and failings of ourselves and the rest of humanity, we also live with the promise given to us by God.  Jesus, the hope of history is still our hope today.  Jesus is our hope realized, a reality who walks with us through the struggles of life each and every day.  And for that, for his loving presence in the midst of the world’s failures, we can only give thanks, and celebrate his birth each day and every Christmas.


Bible References

  • Jeremiah 33:14 - 16
  • Psalm 25:1 - 10
  • Luke 21:25 - 36



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