1st Sunday - Hope Isaiah 9 2 6-7

Four Sundays before Christmas Day begins a celebration known as Advent. The word “Advent” is anglicized from the Latin word “Adventus” which means, “coming.” It is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The Latin word “adventus” is a translation of the Greek word “Parousia” commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent serves as a reminder both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christ’s return from Heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God.

While the Advent season is a time for reflection and preparation, its mood is joyful. It proclaims the revelation of God’s love as expressed in Christ’s birth in a humble stable, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His victorious resurrection! It points to the hope of Christ’s coming again as the King of kings and Lord of lords. For us today, the church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming for Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. Advent, for us today, is a time of reflection, preparation, and expectation as we wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom.

Father, we long for the simple beauty of Christmas — for all the old familiar melodies, words, and symbols that remind us of that great miracle of when our Savior was born in a lowly stable and held in the arms of his virgin mother. But in that longing, let us even more yearn for your renewed presence among us even as we celebrate the birth and expect the second coming of your Son.

As the shepherds came to worship You, so we bow before you in worship today. As the wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, so we bring you the gift of our love, praise and adoration. We bring You our gratitude for the blessings you have given us during the years that have gone. And we pray, Lord Jesus, that as we begin this four-week journey of expectation and hope, may we remember Your birth and feel Your presence among us.

Help us to remember the birth of Jesus so that we may share in the song of the angles, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. As we enter the season of Advent, we pray this time will be different. This Christmas may we stop rushing,  breathe and take notice of you and allow your Holy Spirit to fill us with the joy, love, and grace that your Salvation brings.

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