by The Rev. Jonathan Naumann
Yes, that annual season we call Advent is on the way this month beginning on St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th) this year.
But by saying “Advent is Coming” I am not referring to the calendar as much as the meaning of the term. “Advent” (from the Latin) means “coming”. But beyond its dictionary definition, Advent is a description of what the biblical God Himself actually does for us in the person of Jesus Christ. “…Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven”.
In those words, quoted from the Nicene Creed, we have an extraordinary departure from the safe comfort zone of the gods of all other religions.
Other religions are about what comes down out of people’s minds whereas here we are faced with One Who comes down from heaven. And, whereas other religions are about what we humans do, the Christian Gospel is about what God actually did and does.
Humans religions continue to disgrace themselves with evil actions, such as taking land or goods in the name of religion or even taking people’s lives in the name of religion.
A few Saturdays ago, in India, anti-Christian riots took place, killing nearly 50 people and destroying thousands of Christian homes and churches all because a Hindu leader (a terrorist against Christians) was killed by Maoist rebels who claimed responsibility for his assassination.
Even without going into what takes place between Arabs and Jews, suffice it to say that, much to their shame, religions down through the centuries have use weapons and words, sayings and scriptures to assert their demands and abuse their positions in the name of God. What a despicable combination of invalid actions combined with unwarranted words!
Not so with the biblical God Christians worship. With His Advent we have, not the arrival of mere words, but of the coming of the Word made flesh. As Philip Doddridge, in his hymn “Hark! the Glad Sound!”, put it 250 years ago:
He comes the prisoners to release,
In Satan's bondage held.
The gates of brass before Him burst,
The iron fetters yield.
He comes from thickest films of vice
To clear the mental ray
And on the eyeballs of the blind
To pour celestial day.
He comes the broken heart to bind,
The bleeding soul to cure,
And with the treasures of His grace
To enrich the humble poor.
He comes because this sinful world needs Him to. He comes because He is a God of love and a God who took the loving action necessary to redeem His fallen creation and make it possible for those who trust in Him to be forgiven and saved.
"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel — which means, 'God with us'” (Matthew 1:22-23)
Come down here and actually do something? He certainly did, and we are living proof of it. God's Son, Jesus Christ is God with us even now as He comes to us by His word and sacraments – just as He promised He would. And, in response, we love another in His name.
The Reverend Dr. Jonathan Naumann is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church & School in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. He previously served as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in England... and he is Stan's Pastor!
Created: November 19th, 2008