I originaly posted at the BHT group advent blog… I wanted to post it here because I need to remember this, all the time. Before reading, let me make a few sugestions: First, go read the advent blog. It is worth your time, and is good for the soul. Second, get some good advent/christmas music to listen to while reading. I would suggest Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb, or Sufjan Stevens Hark! Songs for Christmas Vol 1,2,and 3 (you can download them here, leagaly and for free) (HT: Reforissionary). Finaly, brew some coffee or some tea, sit sit back, and contemplate the incarnation. Perhaps read over Luke Chapters 1 and 2 with the newest eyes you can muster, and pray that our hearts might find healing in the birth of our Lord.
Advent is a season to celebrate remembering, to rejoice in the truth that God remembers his people.
A reading from the book of Isaiah:
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence–as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil–
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
Call and response is a familiar worship practice to the community of God. We call and the Lord responds. From the Egyptian captivity onward, the people of God cried out to God for salvation. They cried out and waited for the day of deliverance, and like verse 4 declares, God Almighty is the only god who acts for those who wait for him.
At Sinai, the sky was rent, the earth shook, and fire blazed as Yahweh declared, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” He had not forgotten the words of promise spoken to Abraham and he proved the He indeed remembers his people and hears when we call.
This call has always ultimately been for a messiah to deal with our broken relationship with God. More than deliverance from slavery to other nations, we need salvation from our slavery to sin. And once again, God has heard our cries. He has not forgotten that we need healing to our humanity, forgiveness of our sins, and a a true shepherd to lead is into the way of peace.
God has not forgotten. In fact, he has already given us forgiveness, healing, salvation in the incarnation. Zechariah heard the first whispers of this fulfillment, and after nine months of silence he extolled the Lord saying:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Far from forgetting, God has given us a savior. Emmanuel: God made flesh to save us from our sin and give us true healing and deliverance. Jesus is our savior. He is Christ the Lord; his birth is the fulfillment of God’s word to man.
Advent is our celebration and remembrance of the incarnation. We rejoice that God has remembered man kind, and has chosen to make all who believe in this savior a community that draws life and hope from the humble act of the Son of God.
Let us pray:
O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.