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!