Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I’m going to use this month to do a little bit of a shameless plug. This Advent we’re going to be taking a look at the Epistle readings that we hear every Sunday, and look at them under the theme: Getting Ready for the Day.
We all spend time getting ready every morning for the day that lies ahead. Much of our preparations in the morning depends on what we’re doing on the day. The kinds of clothes that we’ll wear will be different if we’re planning a lazy day at home versus a day when we want to look professional. We are going to prepare our hair differently depending on what we might be doing in the day. We might hold off on having a shower right when we get up in the morning if we’re going to be doing a lot of heavy labour around the house early on in the day. We spend a lot of time getting ready for the day before us.
We also spend a lot of time getting ready for Christmas Day. We spend months, or a few frantic weeks, shopping for Christmas presents, and many more weeks beforehand thinking about what gifts might be best for each person. We spend time trying to think about how we can do Christmas on the budgets we have available. We spend time planning Christmas parties and gatherings, we spend time working and massaging our schedule so that we can fit in every party we want so that we meet every friend and family member that we can during this short season. We spend time getting the decorations up in and around the house, planning how to rearrange the furniture to get the tree into the living room, and then there’s more planning to finally get the Christmas lights on the house. We spend time wrapping the presents and putting them under the tree. And we haven’t even started talking about travel plans, dinner plans, family gatherings, getting ready for church, and attending the Advent Wednesday services, soup suppers, and Bible study. We spend a lot of time getting ready for the day before us.
But what about the day of Christ’s return? How do you get ready for that day? How much time do you spend getting ready for that day? That’s the focus of our Advent series this year. The Epistle lessons each Sunday teach us how we are to get ready for that day. The first week is Romans 13:11-14, which is our divine wake-up call. The time is now to get ready. Salvation is near. Jesus is near. He’s coming soon. So get ready. Repent. Cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Get up, get dressed, because the day is coming and you’re going to be spending that day in a struggle. It’s a struggle against your sinful self, a struggle against the world, but most importantly a struggle against the devil. It’s time to get ready. The next week is Romans 15:4-13. Here Paul tells us that we get ready abounding in hope. We know the day is coming. The little child has Christmas day marked on the calendar. Many of us use those little Advent calendars that count us down to Christmas. The hope that we feel as we get closer and closer to the day. This is the hope that we feel as we think about the return of Jesus. Each day brings us one day closer. No matter how bad the world seems to be, we can abound in hope, because His return is one day closer than it was before. And finally, James 5:7-11 tells us to be patient. It takes a lot of patience to get to Christmas day. Nothing can make the next 24 days go any quicker. You just have to be patient. So it is also with the return of Jesus. You have to be patient. James points us to the prophets who saw the Messiah coming in visions from afar, and testified to Him, yet never saw their preaching reach its fulfillment. Yet they were patient, knowing that God keeps His promise, even if we think He’s being slow in His fulfillment. James also points to Job, who was patient in His suffering, knowing that despite everything his eyes saw, he had heard God’s preaching through the sacrifice: God has forgiven him of all his sins. Both of these are models for us in patience, trusting in Jesus’ words despite what we see, or what we feel in this life. God’s promise trumps our feelings, and so we wait for the day in patience, in repentance, abounding in the hope of the day that is coming, patient because we know Jesus made His promise and will come when His Father’s ready.
This was just a little preview of what is coming in Advent. I invite you to come and join us to hear from the Lord and be prepared for the day.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Tim Schneider