Thursday, December 15, 2005

Exhortation-Second Sunday in Advent

This is the Second Sunday in Advent-One of the traditions behind the Advent Wreath is that the four candles of Advent each represent 100 years of time between Malachi, the close of the Old Testament canon, and the Advent of the Word Incarnate. God had gone silent among the people of God. No prophets were speaking until John the Baptist comes on to the scene.

The Advent season is for looking forward with eager anticipation. But sometimes, especially for a child, Christmas seems so far away. It seems like it will never arrive. Can you imagine how the Jews felt after not hearing any prophets speak in the land for over 100 years? And then 200 years? They probably grew weary of waiting. It may have seemed like the Promised One would never arrive.

Instead of looking forward, perhaps there was a tendency to wonder if the words were really true? Perhaps they wondered if they were interpreted correctly? Anticipation at its height can only last so long. After a while, the eagerness wears off and fatigue sets in. When will Christmas come? But John the Baptist brought hope. In Narnia, the Spring begins and the word is out that ‘Aslan is on the move.’ But that is one of the glories of being on this side of the Incarnation. We know that it already happened. We have the strength and stamina to wait for Christmas because we know it will come. So, we wait and do not grow weary. We wait on the Son and know that He will set all to right when He comes. And what is greater still, He has come. And He has set all things to right. But we do not see them all set right, yet. Well, He is still coming. He is still working the works of God. So, we must use this season to remember what has happened and to continue to look forward to Christmas with eager anticipation of the continuing establishment of the rule of Christ. Every Christmas solidifies His rule and the joy to the world because of it.

A curious passage from Malachi is tied together with Advent, waiting for Messiah. The people had grown weary of doing God’s will. God accuses them of robbing Him. This is right for us to remember at this time of year. Have we been faithful to God first? Specifically, God accuses them of robbing Him in tithes and offerings. How so? Well, they did not tithe or give offerings. They hoarded these things for themselves, to spend them on their own desires. This shows that they did not believe that God was the author of these blessings. If they did, they would have believed God to bless them further through their obedience to Him in giving.

At this time of year, it is a temptation to some to spend more than they should or can. For some, they may even justify not tithing or not thinking of the poor in order to spend more for themselves or their family. While I do think we should rejoice, eat, drink, give presents and celebrate at Christmas, this should all be done under God. This means we honor Him first and others because we honor Him.

Obviously, where we have not been faithful, we need to confess, repent, seek the Lord forgiveness and be united in a bond of fellowship with Him.

No comments: