Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Advent Week 1 Hope

While preparing for my message on hope this past Sunday I happened upon an incredible article titled "African American Advent and Christmas Spirituals" by Melva Wilson Costen. Although Melva was writing to an African American situtation, the opening paragraph speaks volume to conditions throughout the world today.

Waiting, expectantly and patiently waiting, for one who has already come. Waiting, hopefully waiting, in anticipation of the promised peace and justice in a world overwhelmed with injustices of all kinds. Longing, waiting, yearning, and simultaneously rejoicing that the Prince of Peace has appeared and is to be remembered in a special way. Preparing to receive again the ultimate gift from God - Emmanuel -God with us. This is Advent.

The four weeks leading up to Christmas is called Advent. Advent means coming or arrival. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance! Jesus’ coming to earth was a history changing and a life changing event for a group of oppressed people 2000 years ago. But it is just as significant for our culture today as we continue to be prepared for the day when Jesus comes again. This is Advent.

"Christ has come! Christ has risen! Christ will come again!"

Isaiah 61:1-4 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

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