First Sunday In Advent HOPE
There seems to be a building change here in the United States. There is a growing population that has chosen to be unaffiliated with religion and God. It is focused on "ME" more than anything else. They replace God with Tolerance. No one dare question them - "me" - for their behavior or their beliefs.
It is hard at my age to see children being raised so far away from the God. It is easy to talk of faith, but not easy to WALK the faith. It is not easy to LIVE the faith. It is not easy to DIE for the faith. I cannot change anyone else but me. I can pray and have HOPE they will find their way to the Father. It is a constant struggle to walk in God's light and not be swayed in other directions and caught up in unimportant things.
Advent is the time of the year to teach our young children the beauty of the Lord and the greatness of the birth of his Son to walk this earth as a man and to have hope in His second coming. After reading through the scary part of Jeremiah through Ezekiel, it is evident the Israelites were all focused on the "me" things and 'worshiping' the wrong things in life. It did not end well. We must teach our children the importance of HOPE in our lives. That hope is not in "Zippy" the magical elf that has taken precedence over the Advent season.
Advent is a time of preparation in our hearts and lives. It has evolved over the years to a tradition of the four Sundays before Christmas and then followed up with the 12 day celebration of Christmas which lasts from Christmas Eve until the Epiphany on January 6th. The first two Sundays are based on the second coming of Christ. The last two Sundays are a look backward to the first coming of Christ. (And how many of you take down 'Christmas' the day after the 25th?)
Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church in these 'last days' as we wait for the return of Christ in Glory. It can be compared to the Israelites in exile when God destroyed Judah and most of them. He found a few chosen to protect until the time was right. My favorite Christmas Hymn, "O Come O Come, Emmanuel... and ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here. Until the Son of God Appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, shall come to thee, O Israel."
So in hope and anticipation I look forward to Christ's second coming.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 "for I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."