During our final week of Advent we looked at why Jesus' birth is good news (Matthew 1:20-23; Luke 2:6-14).
This week we were glad to welcome in Peter Louis to preach. He walked us through why Jesus' birth is still "good news of great joy". The same Jesus we read about in the Bible has made His life available to us here and now (Luke 2:8-14).
During our second week of Advent, we looked at the story of Gabriel and Mary. Looking at this story and indeed looking at the story of the Bible, we see a God who speaks and interacts with ordinary humans. Therein lies our hope - we serve a God who loves to speak with the weak, the lonely and the seemingly unimportant (Luke 1:26-38).
We began Advent by looking at God's faithfulness to keep His promises. God's promise ignites hope. The fulfillment of the promise grants joy. During advent we are reminded that our hope and joy are based primarily on His faithfulness to fulfill all of His promises (1 Thessalonians 5:24; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 1:5-24).
This was the final week of the year for us at Normandy and the culmination of our Advent season - expectation, preparation, pain and ending with joy. At Christ's appearance, the weary world rejoiced with joy. Jesus came to give us life to the full and a deep, abiding joy. Joy is found in His presence and comes with His Salvation (Matthew 4:17; Romans 14:17; Luke 2:9-11; John 15:11; Psalm 51:2; Isaiah 9:2-4).
Jesus told His followers that trials would follow them while they were on Earth. Advent is a time that accentuates the tension between expectation and disappointment, joy and pain. This Sunday we began to confront and feel the pain of living in a fallen world, all the while expecting to receive the comfort that comes from the God of all comfort (Isaiah 9:2-7; Matthew 4:13-17; Romans 14:17; John 16:33; Proverbs 4:23; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Advent causes us to have a hopeful expectation of Jesus' coming. If we have this expectation, then we also prepare for His Kingdom to come now. Preparation begins with repentance and thankfullness. (Matthew 4:13-17; Matthew 10:7-9; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Psalm 100:4)
The season of Advent has arrived! This first week our focus was on the hope that Christ's birth brought to the world. Hope is something we are both intended to carry within us and to give away to others. In spite of troubles and trials, hope is ours to claim and use. Advent is a time to let our expections rise that we will increasingly see His Kingdom in our midst as the day of Christ's return draws nearer. (Isaiah 9:2-3; 6-7; Proverbs 14:10; 1 Corinthians 13:7; Matthew 4:23-24; Romans 14:17).
This week Pastor John preached on one of the main results of Jesus' Advent - Joy! We can have joy in what He has done, why He did it, and what He will do. Gratitude and thankfulness are ways we walk in joy (Luke 2:10; John 15:11; Romans 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 3:1; Romans 8:28).
On the second Sunday of Advent, Pastor John taught how advent is a tool to help us identify with the groans of creation. From terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Paris and Beirut, or to our own frailty and sin, Advent helps us cry out "How Long, Oh LORD?" And it gives us a heart to prepare Him room in our hearts, ready for His second coming (Habakkuk 1:2; Romans 7:15-20; Romans 8:18; John 14:3; 2 Peter 3:14).