Jesus Christ’s first advent was the defining moment of human history. All that preceded Christ’s coming was preparation, all the follows is explanation (through the proclamation of the gospel), and all that remains is consummation. History hinges on the coming of Christ, so that the most pressing question facing every person concerns the identity of the Child born in Bethlehem. Who is this Child, and why has he come to earth?
It is no wonder, then, that many of the songs that celebrate Christ’s first advent focus on this pressing question. We think of “What Child is This?” with the chorus powerfully answering, “This, this is Christ the King!” We think also of “Who is He in Yonder Stall?” with the refrain joyfully announcing “Tis the Lord! O wondrous story! Tis the Lord! The King of Glory!” For centuries, the Church’s celebration of Christ’s advent has centered on this most pressing of questions – Who is the Child born in Bethlehem?
Our Advent series this year will follow in the footsteps of the Church’s worship and consider the Bible’s answer to this all-important question. And what better way to do this than with the words of the Lord himself! To that end, we will spend the four Sundays of Advent considering four of Jesus’ “I Am” statements from the Gospel according to John. These statements are foundational for our understanding of who Jesus is and why he came to earth. With striking imagery and clear teaching, the Lord Jesus reveals his identity. He reminds us that he came to save, that he came to reveal the Father, that he came for his people to have abundant life. By considering these statements at Advent, we hope to be not only reminded of the truth but also stirred afresh to worship the Child born King in Bethlehem.
On December 3, we’ll consider that Jesus is the Bread of Life from John 6:22-40. We’ll light the first Advent candle with theme of expectation and fulfillment, reading from Isaiah 40 and Hebrews 1. On December 10, we’ll consider that Jesus is the Light of the World from John 8:12-30. We’ll light the second Advent candle with the theme of hope of a Redeemer, reading from Isaiah 11 and Galatians 4. On December 17, we’ll consider that Jesus is the Door of the Sheep and the Good Shepherd from John 10:1-18. We’ll light the third Advent candle with the theme of joy of salvation, reading from Isaiah 61 and Luke 4. And finally, on December 24, we’ll consider that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life from John 14:1-11. We’ll light the fourth Advent candle with the theme of the promise of a new creation, reading from Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21-22. Since the fourth Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve, we plan to extend the service following the sermon for a time to sing and celebrate together. The children will join us from their classes, and we hope it will be a wonderful time for the entire church to rejoice together.
We hope you will be able to join us throughout Advent, and we pray the joy of Christ’s first coming will fill you with hope and expectation as we await his return! To him be glory both now and forever!