Advent 2023: “Come and See What God Has Done: Redirecting our Gaze”
by Nathan Parker, Senior Pastor
Dec 3. – Christmas Cantata, "God has Given Hope" (Psalm 80)
Dec. 10 – Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-15a, “God has Given Peace”
Dec. 17 – Psalm 126; 1 Thess. 5:16-24, “God has Given Joy”
Dec. 24 – Psalm 89; Luke 1:26-38, “God has Given Love”
Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve Service) – “God has Given Himself”
I think a lot of us both love and dread the holidays. We love the decorations, the lights, the food and fellowship. But we dread the busyness, the obligations to buy and prepare and please everyone. This is where I think the Christian liturgical calendar can serve us well.
If you grew up in a Baptist church, chances are you did not hear the word “advent” very often. And yet over the last few decades, it seems that many evangelical churches have rediscovered the richness and significance of the seasons of Advent and Lent as well as holy-days such as Pentecost Sunday and All Saints Day. For centuries, Christians all over the world have observed these special occasions as part of a year-long pattern that tells the Story that the Bible tells – the incarnation of God in Jesus at Christmas, the revelation of God at Epiphany, the crucifixion of the Son of God during Lent, the resurrection of the Son of God at Easter, and the arrival of God the Spirit at Pentecost. And the whole cycle begins with the Christian “New Year’s,” Advent.
Advent is a season of anticipation, of expectant waiting. I really do not like waiting. In our age where we have come to expect infinite choices “on demand,” I get frustrated when I have to actually wait. I often feel like I’m only productive when I’m moving, that my worth is tied to how fast I can move and get things done. In this kind of hectic and distracted culture, Advent is greatly needed. Advent serves as a correction to this misguided, Western, consumeristic impulse. Advent isn’t unproductive. It’s not a waste of time. Because Advent isn’t just about waiting – it’s about waiting expectantly.
In Advent, we wait for God to do something, something that only He can do. No matter how hard we work, no matter how productive we may be, we cannot save ourselves from that which most threatens us. We need a Rescuer, we need for God to send a Savior to free us “from our fears and sins.” During Advent, we cry out once again, from the midst of hurried irrelevance:
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Our theme for Advent this year is “Come and See What God Has Done: Redirecting our Gaze.” Instead of looking to our own strength, our own goodness, our own ability, we surrender anew and resign ourselves to wait on the Lord. We look up to Heaven for salvation, not to anything of this earth. We stop with the distractions and minutiae of the “tyranny of the urgent,” and just wait. And when God shows up, when God does what only He can do, we then rejoice and rush to invite others, “He’s done it again! Come and see what God has done!”
My prayer for all of us is that this season we would focus less on what we’re doing and more on what God is doing. May we learn to wait together with our eyes fixed heavenward, eager for a mighty act of God. And when it comes, may we say to one another, “Come and see what God has done! All praise and glory to Him!”
“Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.” – Psalm 66:5 (ESV)
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” – Romans 8:3 (ESV)
Grace and peace,