The Festivities of Advent

 As the Advent season approached this year, I found myself wondering, for the first time, what preparations on the heaven side of things may have looked like that first Advent. My fertile imagination pictured angel-feathers flying everywhere

Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:1-14

christiann-koepke-YiMRF2kO4Aw-unsplash.jpg     God clearly loves feasts and the celebrations surrounding them and has built similar delight into the hearts of us humans. No other creature has behavior that compares to the uniquely human practice of festive celebration. God’s instructions to Moses for His ancient people, Israel, organized their year around major feasts. They also had smaller ones regularly attending other aspects of their daily life, such as the Sabbath. So, it’s not surprising that Jesus often taught of the advancing entry of the Kingdom of God in terms of preparation for a great feast.

     As the Advent season approached this year, I found myself wondering, for the first time, what preparations on the heaven side of things may have looked like that first Advent. My fertile imagination pictured angel-feathers flying everywhere, as the heavenly messengers delivered missives, via dreams and annunciations to the relevant characters of the Christmas story, seeing to the fulfillment of prophecies and keeping demon spirits at bay. Was there a send-off feast? I know I run the risk of venturing into anthropomorphism—bringing God down to human form—yet the circumstance invites the imagination to take wing.  It tempts us to wonder what the feast in heaven may have looked like, if there was one? I believe Jesus gave us a hint, in the parable, from today’s Scripture. 

     Here, in Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus draws on the practices of these ancient cultures familiar to His hearers, but with a twist that would delight the ‘poor in spirit’ of His audience and anger the proud and self-righteous of the religious elite. It would have been clear to the crowd who the bad actors in the parable represented and who the humble folk, dragged in from the highways and byways, needing to be issued appropriate clothing.

     But lest we mistakenly assume that Jesus was playing into ‘classism’— elevating the ‘poor in pocket’ over the wealthy, His parable makes clear that no one in attendance at the feast of His coming Kingdom will do so on his or her own merit. We must all come as the ‘poor in spirit’—the same fury which the King displayed against the initial guests, who esteemed their own business above the King’s, and killed His messengers, is also dished out to the latter guests of humble means, who declined the covering provided in Grace. The response of the King, representative of the Heavenly Father, is completely understandable when you consider that Jesus’ parable is of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, at His Second Advent, and the covering graciously provided, nothing less than the priceless blood of the Son of God Himself!

Prayer:

“Thank You, gracious King and Lord, for Your amazing invitation to feast in Your glorious Kingdom. As we approach the celebration of Your incarnation, may we all make ourselves ready, robed in Your righteousness alone.”

Possessing Our Souls in Patience at Advent

Scripture Reading: Luke 21:5-19

    Believers in Jesus Christ have had several centuries to touch, taste and handle the glorious reality and ultimate Truth of Jesus’ first Advent; but not so much His Second. In fact, the proclamation of His imminent return has fallen on hard times as church’s shy away from a focus on what has been known throughout the ages as “The Believers’ Glorious Hope”.

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     I love the Christmas cards and nativity scenery artistically portraying the shining face of the Christ-Child in the manger, and that light reflecting from those gathered around the Holy family to adore Him. Yet, the historical facts and events, soon to follow that scene, record a brutal, ugly, God-hating world, in the not so distant backdrop. Yet those who gazed and received His Light were forever transformed; going out from that space, proclaimed, preserved and stewarded the Best News the World has ever received and ever will.

   Jesus, in Luke 21:5-19, sought to prepare His followers for the unpleasant circumstances that would also attend His second advent—the destruction of Jerusalem, wars at home and abroad, worldwide cataclysmic events, chaos and disruptions in society and the created order, cosmic phenomena and, in it all, persecution of believers in Him. His admonition to them in verse 19 is to ‘possess their souls in patience’, promising that they would be imbued with supernaturally supplied responses and powerful testimonies of Him for their persecutors and captors and that not a hair on their heads would be lost.

    In this ‘now and not yet’ prophetic passage we, today, can testify that the disciples, just like the faithful shepherds and the holy family, did ‘possess their souls in patience’, in their time. The light of the Glory of God in the Face of Christ had burst forth from a Middle-Eastern tomb, and they had beheld His Glory, even of the only begotten of the Eternal Father! They waited in prayer and worship till the Spirit fell and filled them, then they faithfully delivered the Gospel to successive generations, sustained even up until our day.

How will we do in our time?

Prayer:
“Father, as our quaking world holds the prospect of Christ’s second Advent in derision, help us choose to ‘look up’ in joyful anticipation of His appearing, as Jesus told us to while working the works of Him who sent us while it is still day; knowing that He who promised us supernatural testimony of You, by His Spirit, will also supply the joyful vision to sustain and enable us to ‘possess our souls in patience’ till that Day of days.”