A Post-Christmas Advent Reflection

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You may be thinking it’s a little late for an Advent reflection. We’ve already celebrated; our Savior is born! He is here! And yet, He has not come in all his fullness. We are still waiting.

As Christians, waiting is our posture before God. God uses our waiting to transform us into his likeness. How do we persevere in hope as we wait? We can learn from Mary. As the life of Christ grew inside her, so the life of Christ grows within us as we wait for his second coming. And just as pregnancy is not always pleasant and is sometimes painful – so we wait in both pain and hope, bearing the life of Christ until He comes in all fullness, and we are delivered.

In Luke 1:26-38 we read of the angel’s message to Mary and also her response. The angel calls Mary “highly favored”. That’s our story too, favored by God, invited to participate in his Kingdom through Christ. The angel said, “Do not be afraid.” I’ve heard this is the most often repeated command in Scripture. What makes us afraid to trust, afraid to hope? Do we really believe that God is good? Mary asks: “How can this be?” Often we can’t see or imagine how God will work. We don’t see how something can possibly happen, or change, or be resolved. We can fill in the blank with all kinds of reasons why our hope seems impossible.

How can God break into such a broken place, a place like this? Do we really believe that all things are possible with God? The same Holy Spirit that overshadowed Mary and allowed her to conceive, though she was a virgin, also lives in us, right here, and right now.  And to encourage her, the angel gave a tangible example of Elizabeth, who was now in her 6th month of pregnancy though she was past child-bearing age. May God also grant us encouragement as we see his work in and through others.

As we look forward to what the Lord will do in 2016, may we have grace, strength, and courage to say, “Yes!” to his plans. May we respond with the same attitude of heart as Mary, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

I wonder what He will bring to birth in 2016, in Safe Church Ministry, in the CRCNA, and in his world. May we learn the Advent posture of expectant waiting as his plans and purposes unfold.

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Preach it, Bonnie!  This is Gospel.

Thanks, Bonnie, for your post Christmas advent reflection.  You suggest being hopeful as we wait for Christ to come in all his fullness.  We wait for the “not yet” even as we have experienced the “already.”  I hand it to you, Bonnie, that you have a very positive attitude toward one of the great difficulties and frustrations of the Christian faith, the expectant waiting for Christ’s return.

For the skeptic, he/she would call your expectant waiting unreasonable, beyond the scope of rational thinking. When do you finally give up and start realizing maybe this expectation is mere wishful thinking?  

The apostle Paul thought the return of Christ would occur during his lifetime.  The apostle John, while in exile on the island of Patmos, was awaiting the apocalypse to happen at any time and that he would see it.  The Christian crusaders thought they were carrying out the final battle of Armageddon against the forces of evil in the 12th and 13th centuries.  During the time of the Reformation, many Christians thought the Roman Catholic pope was the anti-Christ and that the end of time was about to take place.  There were those in the 1960's who thought John Kennedy was the anti-Christ and that we were in the end times.  Christian radio host Harold Camping of Family Radio predicted the return of Christ for2011, but it didn’t happen either.  That is just the tip of the iceberg of those who thought the return of Christ should have already happened.  They too, like you, were waiting for the “not yet” of Christ’s kingdom, but were found to be disillusioned.  Other Christians have given up altogether on Christ’s actual return and have spiritualized the thoughts and teachings of a future kingdom. The skeptic stands by on the side line and suggests that such unfulfilled wishful thinking makes Christianity suspect.  

But you, Bonnie, are staying the course, expectantly hanging on to your hope for Christ’s return.  So I laud you and hope you are right in your expectation. Hang in there.

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Thank you for your encouraging words.