“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).
At home my family keeps many beautiful gardens where we enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. I garden vegetables (I like to smell the herbs and eat vegetables fresh off the vine) and my wife is a flower gardener. We have a butterfly and hummingbird garden, rose gardens, and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the shade, the scents, the birds and butterflies.
But guess what: We seldom do that. I am constantly trying to save the tender shoots of new vegetables from choking weeds, grubs, and other pests. When our work allows us the luxury of sitting in the garden shade for a few minutes, we are usually driven away by heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and bees. Winter often feels like a backhanded relief from those stress-relieving hobbies!
When God created the earth, with Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, all of it was good. But something has gone awry. Since then, all of history has been moving toward the restoration of that good creation. Can you imagine a place where we would actually enjoy our gardens— without the work of weeding and the constant annoyance of insects? That would be the best place ever!
Prayer: Thank You Lord, for creating all things and for loving me so much that You made a plan to restore Your good creation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
As We Wait: Make a list of 10 things you are thankful for. Then thank God, Creator of everything, for all of them!
“‘He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
Saint John, the author of the book of Revelation, concludes his writing with this prayer. It is the prayer of the Church, our prayer, as we await the return of our Savior, Jesus.
This Advent season, as you anticipate celebrating the birth of the Christ child, these devotions will take you through history from the moment of creation, following God’s faithfulness to His promise to save His people from the judgment of death. Christmas is the celebration of how He fulfilled that promise in the baby Jesus.
Even now, 2,000 years after the birth of Christ, we continue to anticipate God’s final fulfillment of His promise. Jesus came to be our Immanuel, “God with us.” There is no greater gift. After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus promised that He would return in judgment, taking all who believe in Him to the place He has prepared in heaven.
You and I live in the interim, sustained through all the troubles of this world by God’s grace. We have seen the face of God in Jesus. We have the testimony of God’s faithfulness throughout history, recorded in His Word. We have the gifts of God’s presence in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We have the joy of sharing the truth with those who do not yet know Jesus. We also have His promise to return, to usher in a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no more tears or suffering.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
I’ve been talking a lot lately about the end of the Church year, and of course as that season of the Church year comes to an end, what an exciting season we are entering into. Yes, while we have the last Sunday of the Church year coming up, the season ends with Thanksgiving. While not technically a day in the Church year calendar, here in America Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to end the Church year with a blessed worship service where we can look back on the Church year and thank God for all His blessings, and the blessing of the calendar that moves us to look forward again to the incarnation of our Lord Y’shua!
The season of Advent is a bookend. . . we can say Amen, Come Lord Jesus! as we wait expectantly for the advent of His second coming, while at the same time look forward again to he reality of the incarnation that gives us the promise of salvation. Both of these realities should move us to an urgency to share our faith with all people, recognizing that God continues to give us time to invite others into eternity with us.
Sometimes though, we get sidetracked with trying to protect the identity of Christmas in a growing secular world. And our invitation to others gets drowned out by the silliness of worrying about whether Starbucks puts snowflakes on their coffee cups or not! Some speculate that the furor over that is a plant by non-believers to distract from Jesus, and some speculate that it is “loyal Christian Starbucks customers” who are incensed about the new cups. Either way, its ridiculous to let anything distract us from the message of the Advent Season. Jesus has come already to bring peace between us, individually, and God. That peace gives us the confidence to wait expectantly for Him to come again to bring peace to the world, with its recreation of Eden again.
During the Advent season, Jewish people celebrate Chanukah. These historic events surrounding the establishment of this memorial tradition harken back to the time before the incarnation where God’s people waited in darkness as the world threw false messiah after false messiah at them. Antiochus IV Epiphanes (God manifest), king of the Seleucid Empire tried to claim messiahship over Israel, and Judas Maccabee was hailed as the messiah as he overthrew the Seleucids. The holiday is notorious for the “miracle of the oil,” a later Rabbinic tradition that grew into eight days of Chanukah. But the true miracle of Chanukah is the preservation of the Jewish people from whom would come the true Messiah of Israel, Jesus. Please share this truth this season, as we shine the light of Messiah on an increasingly darkening world. We continue to live in hope, and may no world event dim your hope this season as we together thank God for all His blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!