This is it! The final Sunday of the year and our last Sunday of Advent!
Our church staff is very expectant and hopeful for this service. We have been thinking and planning and praying for this Advent season. We want you to join us in that expectation. Over the last few weeks, we've learned that Advent means "appearing or coming". In this season, we look back to Christ's first appearance and forward to His second coming.
Advent calls us to hopeful expectation and preparation. So what are we expecting and preparing for? The kingdom of the heavens. We believe that in the middle of the "already, not yet", of waiting and longing for Christ to come back to set the world right, we can experience His kingdom here and now. Jesus said "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Here and now! Available to all who come to Him! And Paul described the kingdom as being one of righteousness and joy and peace (Romans 14:17).
Issac Watts' "Joy to the World" captures what we want our church family to do this weekend:
Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room
That is it - let every heart prepare Him room! We have to prepare our hearts to receive His joy. Joy is triumphant, it is jubilant, it is a feeling of intense delight and happiness. Joy is when someone is glad to be with you. And our brains are wired to want someone who is glad to be with us.
While processing as a staff how to prepare for this Christmas season, Rachel Chester said in order to make room in our hearts something has to be taken out, which is why we preached on courageously facing pain. As we look at many of our lives, joy has been stolen. Circumstances, past hurts and the grind of life have robbed us blind. If we are honest, sometimes joy can be even more intimate than our pain. Therefore, we hide, we stew, we miss out.
Jesus, however, is the most joyful and creative person we've ever known. He has no lack when it comes to joy. What we are believing for is a joy that heals, a joy that is greater than our circumstances and pain, a joy that restores identity, the joy that comes from salvation and a joy that comes from walking in wholeness.
What I just described only God can do. It is not man-made; it is supernatural and one of the main reasons He came (Isaiah 9:2-3; John 15:11). Will you join us in joyful, hope-filled expectation that God is going to move in our church family?
I love you guys.