I have stopped being amazed at how quickly time seems to go when you grow older. Suffice to say that I become more keenly aware each year of my life how true the Scriptures are when they tell us that “all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall. . .” (Isaiah 40:6-7). Even though it only seems like yesterday that I was anxiously awaiting spring and warm weather, we are now firmly in the grip of fall, with winter on its heels. We are only three weeks away from the start of Advent, and then Christmas is upon us.
I have made a practice each year that I have been at LifePoint to write an Advent devotional. I know that many of you do not come from traditions that celebrate Advent. I also know that some of you feel strongly that Romans 14:5-9 tells us that we are under no obligation to celebrate days and seasons. I agree whole-heartedly. There is no biblical mandate that we should celebrate any day as more esteemed than another. You do not have to observe Advent, or even Christmas for that matter. On the other hand, I believe there is much to be gained by setting aside occasional days and/or seasons in order to concentrate more fully on a certain aspect of our faith. Those who observe Advent need to do so “unto the Lord.” The season offers no magic, only an invitation to go deeper with God.
This year as we approach Christmas, we will finish our “Counter Cultural” series and then begin an Advent series we have entitled “Proclaimed.” During the four Sundays of Advent we will consider how God has proclaimed the gospel to us throughout the ages. We will focus on the gospel in creation, the gospel in light of the Fall (human depravity), the gospel in the hope of redemption, and the gospel in the consummation of God’s working in history as we know it. I have also written a daily devotional that corresponds to that theme. For those who are interested in following a devotional for the twenty-two days of Advent this year, we will make it available on Sunday, November 26.
Advent has been observed and celebrated for many centuries. It is a time in which we anticipate the coming of Jesus to our own lives, and prepare for the celebration and feast of Christmas through periods of prayer, contemplation, fasting (for those who are physically able to do that) and concentrating more intentionally on our faith. It has been immensely significant in my own walk with Christ, particularly over the last fifteen years (it was also a part of my tradition growing up). Some will choose not to participate, which is perfectly fine. You do not have to observe Advent and Lent to be a fully functioning member of LifePoint. There is tremendous freedom in Christ. If celebrating days and seasons do not help you in your faith, or seem archaic and legalistic, than please do not feel any obligation. As Paul tells us in Romans 14, we are not to pass judgment on one another in these matters. It is before God alone that we will stand one day.
Before we move into our Advent series, we have two more weeks in our Counter Cultural series. This Sunday Pastor Nate will address issues related to parenting from Proverbs 22:6. The last Sunday in November, Nate Meece will walk us through issues related to equality and distinction between men and women as it relates to ministry in the church and home from Genesis 1:26-31 and 2:15-25.
I am happy to be on this journey of faith with all of you by my side.
Grace and peace,