I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving this week and were able to take time to enjoy the company of friends and family. Our family spent Thanksgiving in Dallas- which was our first time back since we moved last summer. It was amazing to see our loved ones in the area- including my 96 year old grandmother who flew in from Missouri. While we keep in contact regularly with our friends who are far away- at least through facebook, email, texting, and phone calls- there is something special about seeing them in person.
It was very emotional for us to be back here without our son Joshua. Many of you know what it is like to celebrate the holidays while missing those you love. You may be there now. And yet, to be surrounded by friends during this difficult time was amazing. There is such comfort in a handshake, a warm smile, and a hug- reassuring us that our friendship is real.
This sentiment is beautifully expressed by the reality that God was unwilling to simply profess His love for us from a distance- He sent His Son Jesus to be Immanuel, “God With Us”. To experience humanity in all its fullness- with all its joys and heartbreaks, strengths and weaknesses. To bring healing and love to a world broken by our sin. To be a light shining in darkness. To empathize with us in our pain and pay the ultimate price on our behalf by dying on the cross for our sins. What a beautiful, incomparable display of love! What comfort that we can have, knowing that God is not far off- a distant, virtual being- but one who became flesh and blood; one who is very real and very near to us today.
This Sunday we begin Advent Season at Christ Community Church. Advent means “coming”. During these four weeks we remember the coming of Christ 2000 years ago. God’s people had been waiting expectantly for thousands of years for the coming of the Messiah. The Israelites had gone through great suffering during this time. They were enslaved in the land of Egypt, constantly in danger because of their own rebellion against God and under threat from the surrounding nations. They were led by a series inconsistent kings and eventually exiled from the promised land. These people were intimately acquainted with sorrow and suffering and longed for the day when Immanuel, God-With-Us, would rescue us from sin and usher in the Kingdom of God.
There are many parallels between the Israelites of old, and Christians today. Even in a time of unparalleled peace, there is still division, disease, violence, and uncertainty all around us. Though we have the Holy Spirit, we still rebel against God through our sin: especially our lack of faith and self-centeredness. We look forward to the Day when Christ shall triumphantly return and take us out of this broken world to be with Him.
This Advent season we will be focusing on the first coming of Christ to give us hope, joy, peace, and love as we wait for the second return. Specifically, we will be looking at prophecies from the Book of Isaiah that are referenced in the Gospels, and resonating with their anticipation for the coming Christ. You are probably familiar with all these passages, but very few know of their context and how closely they align with our longing for the second return of Christ. I can’t wait to share them with you!
This Sunday we will be looking at the prophecy referenced in Matthew 1:23;
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Join us as we celebrate the significance of God with Us this Sunday, 10:15 am at Christ Community Church.
God bless you, have a great weekend, and I look forward to seeing you soon!