“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law.” (Galatians 4:4)
Don’t you just love Christmas? Say what! You may be thinking that just like retailers who begin promoting the Christmas season in October, I may be rushing things just a bit. I mean, we still have Thanksgiving to observe. However, there are several reasons that I am beginning a series concerning the church season known as Advent.
First, anyone who truly knows me knows that I annually begin listening to Christmas music in July. You’ve heard of Christmas in July haven’t you? I have tailored several of my Internet music stations to feature either Classical or Jazz arrangements of familiar carols and contemporary Christmas favorites. I revel in the familiar sounds along with new and exciting arrangements.
Second, my church’s worship director begins preparing practices for the annual Christmas presentation by the adult choir in late August. Works for me. Therefore, I have also been listening to this year’s cantata.
Third, even though the Advent season is normally the four Sunday’s immediately prior to Christmas, I have discovered that there is so much revelation from God’s Word concerning the incarnation of Jesus Christ that it becomes impossible to properly treat all it with the attention it deserves.
I sensed the Lord leading me to examine the Incarnation, or the birth, of Christ in greater detail than could be accomplished in four Sundays, or four blogs. I sensed He wanted me to lead us in revisiting familiar characters, scenes, and situations of which we have grown, if not a least overly familiar, than perhaps a little too casual.
There are so many Old Testament prophecies, biblical characters, symbols and types. There also are the circumstances which occurred immediately prior, and at, Christ’s birth that often are misunderstood.
What exactly does Advent mean? Advent, from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming”, is the Christian ecclesiastical calendar season observed in preparation for Christmas. The earliest authentic record of Advent (ad 581) states that the season starts on the feast of St. Martin, November 11; this period is still observed in the Orthodox Church. About AD 600, Pope Gregory I decreed that the season should start on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, but the longer period was observed in England for some years. The shorter period is now observed in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and Episcopal churches. The first Sunday of Advent is regarded as the commencement of the Christian ecclesiastical year. The season is also a preparation for the second coming of Christ at the end of the world.
I suspect for some of you this will be a journey into familiar portions of Scripture which you have known and loved for years. For others of you, it may prove to be the first time you have ever studied God’s incarnation in great detail. For still others, our study will dispel various myths and inaccuracies which often occur in our understanding and perceptions of the Birth of Christ.
For example, how many Magi actually visited the Christ child? Did their visit occur at the manger scene or somewhere else? How may they be connected to the Prophet Daniel?
This excursion is not simply for an intellectual understanding of the facts, but also to savor God’s revelation of Himself to us and this revelation to save us.
As one pastor has written, “Everyone can read the stories of Jesus and ‘see’ the portraits painted by the words of those who knew Him. But not everyone sees truth and beauty and infinite value. Some see only myth. Some see foolishness. Some see offense. ‘Seeing they do not see.’ It is though a child could look at a Michelangelo and prefer a comic strip.”
“Savoring Jesus Christ is the response to this second kind of seeing. When you see something as true and beautiful and valuable, you savor it. That is, you treasure it. You cherish and admire and prize it. Spiritual seeing and spiritual savoring are so closely connected that it would be fair to say that if you don’t savor Christ, you haven’t seen Christ for who he is. If you don’t prize him above all things, you haven’t apprehended His true worth.”
So let us begin. Let us begin to savor the Savior Jesus Christ.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!