Please join us over the next several weeks as we journey through this Advent season. We will be hearing from many of our City Church staff as well as members of the congregation as we all ponder the mysteries of this season. Today’s contribution comes from Kristin Lescalleet, Director of Community Life at City Church.
Yesterday David and I went to get a Christmas tree. While we were wandering through the maze of Spruce trees trying to find the perfect size, shape, and hopefully one that wouldn’t drop its needles, we met a woman. Like us, she was on a quest for the right tree. She was around our age, very lovely, very friendly. In the course of our conversation with her, we learned that she had recently moved here from Minnesota and had also spent time in Maryland, both locations that are very cold in the winter months. As we were all hunting through the man-made forest of Home Depot, we were actively working up a sweat. She turned to us and commented, “It’s so warm that it doesn’t feel like Christmas.”
Ain’t it the truth! I’ve always contended that it takes a special type of faith to live in South Texas during December. Most of us have in our minds what Christmas is supposed to feel like, and 80-degree weather usually isn’t on the list.
That got me thinking about Advent. I also thought about the theme that David will be preaching on during December which is “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” And then I thought about this:
Most of the time in life things don’t quite look and feel like we expect them to.
That’s certainly true about the first Advent.
~ The long-expected Messiah is born in a stable?
~ The long-expected Messiah who comes to rescue His people and overthrow their enemies is nailed to a cross?
Now to be fair, the clues about the long-expected Messiah can be found in the Law and the Prophets. The people who lived during the time of the first Advent shouldn’t have been as surprised as they were. Jesus, Himself, told them that if they had really understood Moses and the Prophets, then they would have known who He was.
But even the disciples who were eye-witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, the most glorious fulfillment of God’s ultimate power over death, still struggled with certain expectations, namely who gets to be a part of this new family? It was almost inconceivable that Gentiles…pagans…would be grafted into the line of Abraham. The whole idea of the church had to blow their expectations – this beautiful mess of Jews and Gentiles worshipping the Risen Lamb of God together.
So here we are in 2017, living between the first Advent when Jesus came and the second Advent when He will return once and for all. And I think we still have problems with expectations.
We expect the easy life when Jesus clearly warned us about trials and tribulations. We expect the right to live the American Dream and have all of our felt-needs met when God says He wants us to live His Dream, the dream of being sons and daughters of the King, of taking dominion of the earth that He has given to us and making disciples of all the nations.
So as I’ve been pondering this, here are some of my expectations for the coming year:
~ I’m expecting trials and tribulations. I’m also expecting that God will empower me through Christ to overcome them, not be destroyed by them, and give Him glory through them.
~ I’m expecting that I will continue to meet broken people with broken lives. I’m also expecting that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to save, heal, and restore these same broken people.
~ I’m expecting the nations to rage. I’m also expecting that Jesus really is the King of the nations and that all other rulers will yet bow down and kiss the Son. (Psalm 2)
~ I’m expecting that God is going to use me in mighty and powerful ways between the Advents even if it looks small to others.
~ And finally, I’m expecting that none of this may look exactly how I think it is supposed to look, but I’m also expecting that it is actually going to be ultimately better than I could have imagined.
It may not feel like Christmas in South Texas, but Jesus has come, He sent the Holy Spirit to be among us right now to aid us between the Advents, and Christ will yet come again. Expect it.