Part one: Advent what is it?
There are four emotions God has given us that I want to dwell on today, I think they are very relevant especially today as we have just been a part of the baptism of Ruby who we pray Has Hope, Peace, Love and Joy all ahead of her.
Which doesn’t mean that we don’t have it ahead of us as well, for in John 3:16 for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
And in that belief we have Hope, Peace, Love and Joy. Over the last few weeks we have been observing Advent I want to go into it in just a bit more depth, you may want to grab a pen and paper as I wish to draw your attention to three scriptures pertaining to each part of Advent.
The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
How amazing is that? This prophesy was stated four hundred years before his coming, I wonder if there are prophets today that are forecasting events that will change mankind in the next four hundred years?
The first candle – The Prophesy candle –Hope!
The first candle we lit was the candle of hope, not the hope that we have more money or bigger better or brighter presents in a couple of days’ time, but the deeper and more everlasting Hope that we can have in Christ Jesus who was born, lived and died that we may have eternal life. Now isn’t that something to hang your hat on? In the Psalms there are many verses that encourage us to have Hope in Christ.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.
the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
The second candle – The Bethlehem candle –Peace
Can you imagine? If you will what it must be like in a time when there is no Peace, we are lucky indeed to be in a country where we take peace for granted, the mind boggles at the thought of a politician or leader who can order the death of our first born, but it is another Peace that I draw your attention to and that is the peace we receive when we trust in God. I think it is harder sometimes to remember to trust in God when everything is going well, we can become complacent and carry on in our own strength. Many years ago I remember at a bible study a friend of ours said “that if we wanted more people to believe in God then we must organise a disaster”. If you think about that you will find that it is both sad and true.
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.
The third candle -The Shepherds’ candle- Love.
We are reminded when we light this candle that God sent the angels to proclaim his arrival to common man and that he still uses ordinary people today to spread the good news of Christ, his love and faithfulness. We are commanded by God to love. Love I might add not to be confused with lust. Are we ready willing and able to go out into our communities and show the love of Christ? People, Christians and non-Christians alike, tend to show more love at this time of the year than the rest of the year. Why is that? What is so special about this time of the year? I know and most of you do too, so do we/shall we go and tell others?
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
The fourth candle- Angels’ candle – Joy
God sent his angels to tell the world that Christ is born with “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy” what would we do today if an angel appeared in front of us now shouting “behold I bring you good tidings etc?” quite scary I think? Don’t get me wrong it would be wonderful and amazing and awe-inspiring but scary too, what would you do? The shepherds and wise men all had these feelings but they also had the faith and belief to go and do as directed by the heavenly host.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
To be continued.
Part two will be on Wednesday the 25th Let us go forth with Joy as we prepare in a couple of days to celebrate the birth of our Lord and saviour.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.