November 29, 20180 comments
This Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, the time of year when the church celebrates Christ’s first coming into this world and anticipates his second coming at the end of the age. Because Advent comes every year, it might seem to us that this celebration is somewhat repetitive, perhaps even nothing more than tradition. After all, the church has been celebrating Advent for millennia, so what’s one more year of candles and carols?
But in the Lord’s providence, Advent is particularly important for us Christians who live in the 21st century world. Yes, it’s another year of candles and carols, but we need this celebration more than we realize. Here’s why. It’s hard to cultivate a worshipful approach to life when you’re living at breakneck speed. And that’s our world, isn’t it? Everything, it seems, moves at a breathless pace, so much so, that we often find ourselves asking, “Where did the time go?” And as we know from experience, that kind of run-ragged approach, day-after-day, does not lead to more fully devoted lives to God and to the gospel. That kind of pace doesn’t produce hearts and minds captured by the glories of Christ and therefore ready to live sacrificially for the cause of the gospel and the good of the world.
And that brings us back to Advent. It is a simple but effective analogy to think of Advent like an annual speed bump on the road of this fast-paced world. Advent forces us to put on the brakes, so to speak, and focus on what is unquestionably the most profound truth in all of Scripture – that God took on human flesh for us and our salvation. When life is flying past you, there’s little time to reflect on such a profound mystery. And that’s why we, of all people, should be thankful for another Advent season. Each year, we have this opportunity to recalibrate our hearts and minds on the grace of God that has come to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, you could even say that’s why Advent is somewhat drawn out – because in this breakneck world, our hearts need more than a few passing moments to rekindle the wonder and worship of beholding the Son of God.
For our Advent celebration this year at Midtown, we will focus on Colossians 1:15-23, where Paul unfolds for us the glory of Christ’s person and work. There is perhaps no other section of Scripture that so succinctly yet profoundly declares the mystery Christ. And in God’s kindness, our series in Colossians has brought us to this wonderful section just in time for Advent.
For the first Sunday of Advent, we’ll consider Colossians 1:15-16, where Paul declares Christ’s supremacy in the creation of all things. The second Advent Sunday brings us to Colossians 1:17-18a, where we learn more deeply about the centrality of Christ in all things, especially his church. Colossians 1:18b-20 will be our consideration for the third Advent Sunday, as Paul shows us Christ’s supremacy in the New Creation. And then finally, the fourth Sunday of Advent gives us the opportunity to focus on what Christ’s supremacy means for us, his people, as we study Colossians 1:21-23. These are glorious truths, friends, and we will not be able to exhaust all that God has revealed in his Son. But we trust that our hearts will be stirred with Christ’s glory, even if we grasp only a glimpse of who he is.
And so, as we prepare to begin the Advent season, the challenge before us is this. Let’s not breeze past these weeks. Let’s not assume these things are mere tradition. Advent is more than tradition. It is a sustained celebration of what defines us as a people – that the Son of God, who is himself equal with the Father, became man to save his people through his own life, death, and resurrection.
We look forward to the next four weeks with you and pray the Lord would use this time to deepen our love for Christ, so that we would then live more fully devoted to Christ. Would you pray with us to that end as well?