Advent: The Reason for the Season

We are in the midst of Advent season. Houses are lit up with Christmas lights and living rooms are decorated with nutcrackers, gifts, and Christmas trees. Churches are focusing on the reason for the season, Jesus Christ, the son of God.

christmas-bauble-3001259_1920

Advent marks the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or in some countries, the first of December). In Latin, Advent means ‘Coming’. Thus, Advent celebrates the coming of Jesus into the world. For us as believers and followers of Christ, Advent is a time to prepare and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Prayer:

Father God, during this busy season filled with joy and gifts, let us remember the true reason for our celebration as we commemorate the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ, who saved his people from their sins. Thank you for Immanuel, God with us.

‘Mary Did You Know?’- Mark Lowry

The Beatitudes: Blessed Assurance

Matthew 5:2-12 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Beatitudes

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

In his Sermon on the Mount, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus revealed eight blessings to the crowd that had gathered to see him.  John the Baptist had been arrested and Jesus had begun his earthly ministry preaching and teaching throughout all of Galilee, calling his disciples, healing the sick, exorcising demons, and calling people to repentance.

panorama-1993645_1920 edit

What are Beatitudes? Gregory of Nyssa, a mystic residing in Cappadocia in Asia Minor around 380 AD described the Beatitudes like this:

“Beatitude is a possession of all things held to be good,
from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want.
Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us
if it is compared with its opposite.
Now the opposite of beatitude is misery.
Misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings.”

In contrast to the Law handed down to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, the Beatitudes celebrate humility, charity, and love. The Law directs us with “Thou shalt not”. The Beatitudes guide us toward finding peace amidst a lifetime of turmoil and trouble. In the opening refrain of his sermon, Jesus reassured the crowd with lessons of comfort and hope during a time that the nation of Israel suffered under the occupation of Rome.

church-1024315_1920 jones edit

The Law points us to God. The Beatitudes usher us into His presence.

Yes, life is difficult. Life was hard during the time of the First Advent. It remains challenging as we await Christ’s return. Jesus’ message today, as it did then, heartens us on our spiritual journey, reminding us that He is the anchor of our hope through whom we can love and do good, living life abundantly while waiting on His return.

Go be a blessing…

“Blessed Assurance” -Elevation Worship (Live)

 

 

photos courtesy of Pixabay.