First Sunday In Advent

candle-2874563_1280First Sunday of Advent (December 3, 2017)

1 Corinthians 1:3-9 | New Living Translation (NLT)

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Happy New Year!

You may have thought I just lost my mind, but this Sunday we begin a new church year.  The readings that we use are divided into three years: A, B, and C.  Starting this Sunday we are on Year B.  The church year runs like this: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost.  Way back in 2006, I started blogging a weekend devotional.  The first time through I did a devotional based on all the reading, then I did Old Testament, then the Psalms, and now we are working on the Epistle readings.  Next year, on year C we will switch to the gospel readings.

Several weeks ago, someone mentioned that the lectionary for Advent, especially for this week doesn’t mention anything about Christ’s birth.  Many years ago, I thought that was odd until I figured out how the church calendar worked.  Interestingly enough, we now expect to start preaching about Christmas about the same time shopping for Christmas begins in earnest.  Unfortunately that means we are ready to put away Christmas too early.  In the Christian calendar, we celebrate Christmas until January 6th with the celebration of the coming of the Magi.

What is the theme of the first weekend of Advent?  Paul writes this in verse 7: “Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Hmmm, no one I know of really likes waiting and yet, that is what the believer is called to do, we are to eagerly wait for the return of Jesus.  It’s not something we should dread.  I know as a young boy, I dreaded it because we almost had it scared into us, “What if you are not ready for Jesus to return?”  The point that Paul is trying to make is that God has given the church many gracious gifts – God has enriched the church. We have everything we need.  Just as I spoke about last week – the power of Jesus.  During my sermon last week, I used the illustration of dynamite. God’s power is like dynamite – it is the power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated him on the right hand of the Father – and someday – Christ will return.  It is a time that we eagerly wait for – it is what gives the believer hope.

What do we need to do as we eagerly wait the Lord’s return?  It’s not something that we do passively.  In this passage Paul tells us that we have everything we need and that God will keep us strong – so that we will be free from blame.  How cool is that?  He has given us everything we need to live lives that are pleasing to Him and that will keep us prepared for his coming.  We are even told that God is faithful to do it – and we are partners with his son Jesus – and if we are partners with Jesus – we are partners in his work.  So we continue to build the kingdom of God – telling others about the Good News – about the hope that we have – as we eagerly wait the return of Jesus.

Waiting is not something most of us like to do, but God has called us to wait – and yet be busy spreading the Word of the Good News that brings us hope!

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