Advent has long been a rhythm built into the church calendar that seeks to remind us of Christ’s coming. The Scripture readings create in us longing, hope, anticipation, and preparation. While it is certainly intended to function as a good reminder of the birth of Jesus, it also looks forward to the return of Jesus.
This Advent season has been especially busy. The fact that I have four children and a wife who is also “with child” while attempting to be a grad student is challenging for sure. Plus I have the full time responsibilities of serving as a pastor to a church family I love. Thus, I have been busy and overwhelmed at times.
Yet Advent is a rhythm. It’s a rhythm than helps us slow down. At least it’s helpful in doing so. Don Williams has said,
“Despair is more often the offspring of ill-preparedness.”
I have found this to be very true. Lack of preparation does not often serve God’s people well. So I have a small challenge to give you. At some point in time in the next twelve hours, would you please stop for a few moments and consider the Incarnation?
Here are some Scriptures and meditations that may help in your worship, as they have helped me in mine!
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21)
John Calvin wrote,
“When the Son of God came to us clothed in flesh, he received from the Father a name which plainly told for what purpose he came, what was his power, and what we had a right to expect from him. For the name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew verb… which signifies to save.”
Calvin has more to say about the nature of this “salvation” that Matthew writes of. He says,
“… we learn in what way or manner Christ saves; he delivers us from sins. This deliverance consists of two parts. Having made a complete atonement, he brings us a free pardon, which delivers us from condemnation to death, and reconciles us to God. Again, by the sanctifying influences of his Spirit, he frees us from the tyranny of Satan, that we may live “unto righteousness,” (1 Peter 2:24.) Christ is not truly acknowledged as a Saviour, till, on the one hand, we learn to receive a free pardon of our sins, and know that we are accounted righteous before God, because we are free from guilt; and till, on the other hand, we ask from him the Spirit of righteousness and holiness, having no confidence whatever in our own works or power. By Christ’s people the angel unquestionably means the Jews, to whom he was appointed as Head and King; but as the Gentiles were shortly afterwards to be ingrafted into the stock of Abraham, (Rom. 11:17,) this promise of salvation is extended indiscriminately to all who are incorporated by faith in the “one body” (1 Cor. 12:20) of the Church.”
I’ve always loved how the apostle John writes of the Incarnation:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
God became flesh. In Jesus we see what humanity looks like when it’s God. Simply amazing and mysterious, yet profoundly grounded in Scripture. The Incarnation is the event where God becomes a human being and personally enters into his creation in order to redeem, restore, and reconcile.
Do you have some favorite Scriptures or medications or thoughts?