Advent Week 1

You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. Acts 22:15 (NIV)

What have you to tell?  Words often fade from our strong voices in the daily grind of life.  We no longer speak of the events that once made our faces light up with great joy.  We unfortunately often tell of the current struggle, the lack or the loss of provision or opportunity.  I am guilty here.  Resolve with me and let light drill through the dark tonight as you light the first candle of advent, a symbol of expectation to a harsh and cold world.  Recall a world once without a Savior expectant of an incoming King who would break sin’s death hold and mute man’s mortal shame.

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood,
Sealed my pardon with His blood,
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” Can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Philip Bliss

1 John 1:3 (NIV)
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  Proclaiming leads to fellowship.

Reflection Reading (Message Version):

LUKE 2: 8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

 

15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told! 

Worldwide expectation is happening and God selects shepherds to tell everything they had heard and seen.  If you are among the shepherds who are you telling?

Did one shepherd live long enough to see the Messiah wrapped in that manger grow to manhood and become the Good Shepherd?  Were any of them in Jerusalem when he at age 33 had King of the Jews, written above his cross?  When he hung there for the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah?
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
(Is 53.4–6)
Select someone to read it again.  Listen well here.  “We have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  Good news is peace to all our wandering and healing for all.  Our grief this advent season was not only borne by God’s son but also foretold by Isaiah and fulfilled in the Son of David.
Let the expectation hit home.  Christ can not be a King without a Kingdom! With birth of the King, the Kingdom of God is to be expected. The Messiah will restore society by bringing the Kingdom of God.  In another part of scripture it says, “The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”   These are exact descriptions of the shepherd’s encounter.
In your doubt and struggle with how the kingdom of God appears you are not alone.  John, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps when in contact with the expectant mother of God, and yet he doubts the way the Kingdom has come.  Listen with John to the words of Christ in response to his doubts.
So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Luke 7:22 (NIV)
There it is again.  What you have seen and heard.  John’s disciples get a full view of the Kingdom and the King.  It comes in and tastes often strangely different from what we expect, so different from what I thought… and yet faithfully the Kingdom comes.
Often we can be so focused on the expectation of future freedom, a better political government, that we stop telling about the current things we have seen and heard.  If we will tell about the things we have seen and heard our expectations will align more accurately.  The things Christ is doing in our families, communities, and churches tell these things.  And know HE is already among us.  Expect Him this Advent.

Application

Do THIS: take action. Light a candle around your table or with little ones at bedtime and share stories from what you have seen and heard about Christ.  Traveler, did he calm a snow storm so you could fly home?  Refugee, did Christ provide safe passage from a hostile country?  Prayerful nurse, did Christ heal someone?  Grandparent, did Christ bring home your prodigal?  To the fathers, did Christ make provision for your family when resources were depleted?  Young mother, did Christ restore a broken relationship or heal a fever in your young one? Adventurer, did Christ provide funding for that mission trip?

 

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