Hey there church! I had originally planned for two weeks of Stewardship devotionals but I believe I've said everything that I mean to say. So, we're closing out that chapter and trying something else out. Advent begins next Sunday and it's the official start of the next year in the church calendar. So...happy new year! Advent is a period of longing, waiting, and hoping for the coming of the Messiah - Jesus Christ - who is the prince of peace, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and Word made flesh. However, Jesus contemporaries had many different expectations for who Jesus would be. The questions I want us to consider this week is what expectations do we have for Jesus? How can freeing ourselves of those expectations help us to fully embrace Advent this year?
When working with groups for the first time, especially ones that I know are politically or theologically divided, I like to begin by asking the question "who is Jesus to you?" You might imagine that I would get four or five of the same responses. However, I often find that every person in the room has their own unique answer to that. That naturally begs the follow up question "So who is right?" Well, we all are. Jesus reveals Himself to each of us in unique ways based on our lived experiences, reasonings, and beliefs. This means that each year Advent is a emotionally charged atmosphere for everyone as we once again welcome Christ into our world, our presence, and into our hearts.
While I do believe that Christ's revelation to you is unique I'm fearful that for some Christ's revelation has fossilized for you. In other words, certainty of who Christ is has prevented Christ from revealing himself to you anew this year. Much like my example with the cups and the lids from our stewardship series a couple weeks back I'm fearful we've closed off nuance when it comes to God.
Before we jump into scripture for today let's get a baseline of where you are and at the end of this week we'll get another measurement and see what's changed, if anything.
Who is Jesus to me?
What experiences in my life have helped to define that?
What parts of God am I most certain on? What parts am I least so? Why?
Spirit of the living God, come now and grow our faith. Come and deepen our hope. Come and strengthen our capacity for love. And come and water within each us the desire to be your faithful family forever. Amen.
Scripture to Read
These readings indicate that Jesus was expected to be "the son of man" (something Jesus calls himself in the Gospel of Mark) and that Jesus was to be an offspring of David. While Matthew and Luke make it a point to show how Jesus is related to David, the expectation was not that he would literally be a dependent of David but that he would usher in a new kingdom as King David did. Naturally when we feel oppressed we long to be made free from that oppression and the Jewish people were certainly oppressed at the time. The Jewish people wanted to see the world look different than it did at the time, but things didn't change all that much during his time on Earth. I often hear people say "the world today is going backwards." Do you agree with that? If so, what do you long for Jesus to change about our world if he were to come today? Write that down and then crinkle it up and toss it. Jesus did not come to meet the expectations of others and those who were most open to what the Messiah could teach and not fulfill learned the most from him. This year we toss our expectations of Jesus and open our hearts to a kingdom unlike any other.
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is the beloved Advent classic - Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. Join me in voice or spirit as we welcome Christ back into our hearts this year.