As we sit here, December has just dawned. We are at that precipice of the year when people start looking to “something epic” on December 25th and 31st, yet spend a lot of time looking back at what has occurred during the last 11 months of the year. For many, this year, has been an exhausting year that has seen illness, death, destruction, and chaos. They are at the tipping point and just want to see this year ushered away. Others have had a triumphant year and want to bask in the past accomplishments. Still others are just floating on the bubble in between these two ends of the spectrum. No matter where you are, let’s take a moment and tie some things together in a way that might be new for you.
On November 20th the Church calendar year ended with the celebration of Christ the King Sunday . We then celebrated Thanksgiving, and then we hit the first Sunday and now Wednesday of Advent. What occurs to me is how much all of these days are tied together as one! The messages for each of these worship days are so close that one can’t help but see the unity. Even our readings for many of these days overlap.
“This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:1–5, NIV)
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:8–14, NIV)
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:36–44, NIV)
What to do when you see a King? Thanksgiving, Don’t miss the Boat, and Crosswords: Faith and Watch each have a singular focus, yet when viewed closer under a microscope, one sees with a wide angle lens the panoramic view.
Christ the King has defeated sin, death, and the devil and will return to take His subjects home. That is more than enough reason for us to return sincere thanksgiving and praise. It is also our reason and motivation to stay on guard, ready and willing to jump into service and not miss the boat. As we stand on guard, even in the midst of battles, we are grounded firmly in the Faith, and Watch expectantly for our Sovereign Lord to move and act. We go to the only source, Jesus and Scripture, that has lasting HOPE.
In history, God has always been moving and acting. Nothing has ever taken Him by surprise. Before Adam and Eve sinned, God already had the plan of Salvation in Action. When the Israelites, His set-aside people, would ebb and flow with their love and devotion, betrayal, abandonment, and adultery, God’s plan was still in action. Jesus was standing on the edge of eternity, ready to come to earth in humiliation, leaving behind His Godly power to become a mere man clothed in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. He left the Kingly glories of heaven and took on not only the physical humiliation but all the emotional ones too. You see, God’s mercy and grace for us and all of man kind, required Jesus’s suffering and humiliation to fulfill God’s justice. How do we not put aside everything and freely go to the Throne of God and give thanks, praise, and worship to Him? How do we not want to rush in and enter His courts with all our beings?
During this season of preparation/Advent, let us come in lowly state and see the full picture, hear the full History, and unwrap the Greatest Gift of All – Christ the King. During this time ponder these questions:
What do you see when you look toward Christmas? Who do you see in the Manger? What befitting gifts do you bring for the King? What do you see when you look upon the weak and broken of this world? What do you see when you look in the mirror? What do you see when you look upon the Crucified Christ? What are you, in Faith, Watching for?
The Babe in the manger is also the Christ of the Cross. The perfect Child given a lowly birth, wore a Crown of Thorns. The infant wrapped in swaddling for comfort was the Savoir Stripped bare and nailed to the Cross. The Risen, Victorious, Ascended Son of God is our Triumphant King who is coming back. That is Hope for all seasons!