Luke 2: 1-14, John 1: 1-17
“Everything in the kingdom of God is upside down and backward — the last are first and the first are last; the poor are blessed and the peacemakers are the children of God; and the year begins with Advent rather than with New Year’s Day.”
Advent (Dec 1-24) is more than the beginning of the church year. It is the beginning of the short season where we celebrate the fulfillment of all the loving promises made to our messy humanity. God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12) was that he would be the “father” of a humanity touched with the presence of the living God and that full freedom would finally come to Earth, to the people on whom God’s favour rested. Incredibly, those people were the broken inhabitants of this marred creation, people like you and me, like our fathers and mothers and grandparents, going back all the way to very first people who chose selfishness over relationship with their creator. As time progressed it became clearer that the Spirit would do more than be with fallen humanity. He would be in them and they would be in Him, and this would all be accomplished by the coming of the saviour of all.
And in Bethlehem he surely came, but his coming did indeed seem “upside down”. It makes no human sense that a new-born from poor parents in Palestine could also be the one and only Son of God and saviour of all. In fact, the claim was later made, and remains the same claim today, that the arrival of Jesus in Bethlehem heralded the arrival of God himself and inaugurated His kingdom on Earth.
But how can one be the awesome God and a baby in a manger?
You would think it would be one or the other and many have found it challenging to think that God coming to Earth could be both.Tom Wright said it like this, that “in Jesus of Nazareth heaven and earth have come together once and for all.” The amazing Biblical claim is that the coming of Christ and the inaugurating of the Kingdom is the central cornerstone of God’s plan of complete restoration for all of His creation. For those of us living in these days of grace, we look back to birth of the saviour and look forward to the day God’s kingdom will finally come in fullness on Earth.
Peterson rightly says, “So we begin with Jesus. Jesus is the revelation of the God who created heaven and earth; he is also the revelation of the God who is with us, Immanuel.” And Tom Wright adds, “Christianity is about something that happened. Something that happened to Jesus of Nazareth. Something that happened through Jesus of Nazareth. Peterson concludes with a challenge, namely that “the Christian life is the practice of living in what God has done and is doing.”
Advent, then, is the time Christian look backwards and forwards, from God’s realised promise of freedom towards the day the fulness of His freedom will be for all people and all creation. And if that is the case, in the meantime there is the hard work of the peaceable kingdom to do.
This series aims to:
· Invite people into thinking deeply about what Jesus coming to Earth means to them, to the faith community and to the world.
· Each week highlight how we can respond honestly to the challenge that the message has invited us into
· Motivate listeners to memorise scriptures that speak into their spiritual life
· Encourage the Westcity community that following Jesus is not a Sunday thing, but an everyday authentic conversation that leads to worship in words, songs and action.