- What emotions do you connect with the season of Advent?
- What emotions do you connect with Christmas?
- What are your own emotions between the days of Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day?
- Some of you are probably wondering how communion fits in with Advent.
I asked you what emotions that you experience during this season of the year? Some would say that it the season of Advent should be a happy and joyful time and I would agree with you to a point. I was recently discussing this with several other pastors. Many counselors see a marked increase in their caseload between Thanksgiving and New Years. It is a stressful time of the year. One of the difficulties comes in that our losses become magnified when everyone else is having a great time. The holidays can be a difficult time for those who have lost loved ones during that time. I know even in my own family, we have lost two grandmothers and a great grandmother. In addition Pam almost lost her own mother during this very season. On top of all that we have experienced a deep personal loss that even now brings a flood of emotion. For the last several years, things have gone very well, but when you’ve experienced grief during this season, you wonder when the next shoe will drop.
By now some of you are going to think I have an obsession with the dark this Advent. But again I want to set up a contrast. I don’t want to leave you without a sense of hope this morning. After all, advent is a season of hope because we are preparing the way for a king. Let’s look at Isaiah 53:2a-5.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Look what Christ has done for us. The prophet Isaiah predicted many years before it happened. What’s amazing is that he did it knowing that we like to turn away from God. Look at verse 6.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
As I read this passage this morning, my mind goes back to those images of the movie The Passion of the Christ. There were many charges laid upon this movie. That it was anti-Semitic; that it was too gory; that it was too violent, and yet my one though was He did this for me. He could have stopped it at any time along the whole procession and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Matter-of-fact, I never thought about it in this way. There was a movie entitle the last temptation of Christ. It was blasphemous. However, Christ did have a last temptation. I’m sure Satan used every trick in the book to try to defeat Jesus. You don’t have to do it. Call your angels. Even the thieves on the cross got into the act.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression  and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 
Can you imagine being the son of God and God turning his back on you? One aria from the Messiah says, “But thou didst not leave his soul in hell.”
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
I still wonder how some can justify that Christians shouldn’t suffer. If we are to be like Christ, we are going to suffer. Sometimes it will feel like God is trying to crush us. Sometimes the Lord has to break us.
and though the LORD makes  his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
But there is hope
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life  and be satisfied  ;
by his knowledge  my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, 
and he will divide the spoils with the strong, 
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
We observe communion this morning because of the blood that was shed on the cross. We cannot divorce the coming baby in a manger from the man who died on the cross and from the coming king who is coming to take his children back to heaven with Him. Talk about somebody being there for you. That’s the mark of a good friend, somebody that will stick with you through thick and thin. This is Jesus Christ. He shed His blood for you.
Here is the hope that we have this morning. This coming king that we are preparing the way suffered for us. In Hebrews 4 it says, “14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
What is the cause for our hope? It is that he has gone through what we have gone through. Here’s where I want us to be careful. We need to make sure that we are sensitive to others feelings and emotions during this season. Christ is able to sympathize with us. He was tempted just like us. We are to be like Christ in everyway. Maybe we are not going through a tough time, but perhaps someone else you know is going through a rough time. To be like Christ, we need to sympathize with them. We need to be careful that we don’t patronize them. Christ never does that in our moment of need. He is our high priest who knows what it is like to be human. Through Him we can hold on to our faith. The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” This is cause for great hope. Are you in desperate straights this morning? Reach out to Jesus. Are you just going through a little rough time? Reach out to Jesus. He will help you. He knows what you are going through. This is a reason for hope.