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December 2013 - Advent and Christmas Reality

Advent and Christmas Reality

The seasons of Advent and Christmas are upon us.  They contain the powerful theme and reminder that our loving God is not a distant or abstract God, but an intimate Creator Who does not abandon or remove Himself from His creation but in fact comes to it in order to redeem and restore it!  When Joseph was considering quietly divorcing his dear, but pregnant Mary, the angel of God visited him in a dream and told him that not only had Mary been faithful to him, but she was in fact pregnant by God the Holy Spirit – that he was in fact witnessing the very fulfillment of what the prophet Isaiah had recorded:      (Isa 7:14 NIV)  "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

Immanuel, which means God with us!  God with us!  God Almighty, the Creator of the universe, the One Who sustains all things by the power of His Word, was now in the womb of Mary.  And after Jesus’ birth, (Imagine, The Creator’s birth!) what an incredible sight to have beheld – to see the One Whom Mary and the entire universe depended upon for all things, even life itself, was now dependent upon His mother!  God in diapers!  Fully God and fully man in the person of Jesus, come to rescue us from the guilt of our sin.   God doesn’t get “more with us” than as one of us.

            That is a crucial truth for us particularly in these dark and evil days.  News reports give us nothing by the reminders of violence, war, terrorism, storms, pestilence, vast death and destruction.   The first weeks of Advent continue the themes of the Last Sundays of the Church year in reminding us that this creation is under the bondage and weight of the curse and will come to an end.  It is a curse that touches each of us intimately with weakness, sorrows, pain, and death in our daily lives.  But in the midst of sin and sorrow, Advent continues on in hope and promise fulfilled pointing us to the joy of Christmas – the joyous news of God faithfully and literally delivering the Seed of Promise and our salvation: Our True Living God coming to us to BE with us now and forever more by His saving work.  We must always remember that what we are celebrating this month is not just some pleasant historical event to recall and take encouragement from, but an ever present reality for our hope amidst suffering, heartache and trial.

The Advent and Christmas season is a time for the people of God at St. John’s to know that God has indeed come to you in the flesh, and indeed still truly, physically, sacramentally comes to you each and every week in the Means of Grace.  Your Lord not only loved you enough to take on your very nature and be your substitute under the justice of God and save you from the guilt of your sin, but He continues to come to you even now.   When your Lord finished His earthly ministry and ascended back to His Father in Heaven, He only removed His visible presence from you, but assures you that your Advent, Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ still comes to you today. 

Therefore, amidst war, terrorism, heartache, trials and death, comfort yourselves in the knowledge that the little babe born in the manger, the One who was also God Almighty Himself, the One that was born to die in your place and restore you back into God’s Presence, is the same Incarnate God Who comes to you in Word and Sacrament.  You are not alone or abandoned by your Lord, rather He is Immanuel, God with you!

 

Pastor Reiser

 

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