December 21, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.
This Sunday will be the fourth Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before we celebrate Christmas. Increasingly, our hearts are being filled with joyful anticipation as we look forward to experiencing once again the good news of Immanuel, God with us.
Advent is a season in what we call the Christian Year, or the Liturgical Year, or the Church Year. It is a time in which Christians remember Israel’s hope for the messiah. And it is a time for us to get in touch with our own hopes, for the second coming of Christ and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. We yearn for the time when God will heal the brokenness of our world and our own lives, when God’s justice and peace will cover the earth.
Yes, Advent is a Christian season celebrated by Christians. But the reality of Advent is not just for followers of Jesus. Consider, for example, the flow of thought in Psalm 65. Verse 4 counts as blessed those whom the Lord chooses to “bring near to live in [his] courts.” This temple-centered blessing reflects the experience of the children of Israel. Yet, in verse 5, God is “our Savior,” and also, “the hope of all the ends of the earth.” Notice, God is not just Israel’s hope but also the hope of the world. God’s presence throughout the earth is seen in the wonders of creation. Thus, “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening faces, you call forth songs of joy” (65:8).
Thus, in the season of Advent, we who are Christians do not keep our hope to ourselves. Rather, we open our hearts, our lives, our families, our churches, and our homes to those who have not yet come to know Christ through faith. We invite “all the ends of the earth” to put their hope in God, the God whose incarnation we celebrate in a few days, the God who is the Savior of the world, the God to whom we sing songs of joy.
Something to Think About:
What are your hopes in this season of Advent?
How might you share your hope in God with those who do not yet share this hope?
How might you reach out to others in the last days of Advent as well as in the approaching season of Christmas?
Something to Do:
Is there someone whom you might invite to your church’s celebration of Christmas? Or perhaps to your own Christmas gathering? Ask the Lord if there is anyone to whom you should reach out with the welcome of Christ in this season. If God puts someone on your heart, then offer an invitation to that person.
Gracious God, in the last days of Advent, we are reminded that you are not just our hope. You are the hope of all the ends of the earth. You are the Savior of the world. So we praise you with songs of joy as we put our trust in you.
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining; it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth! Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Amen.