2022 Advent Devotional – Immanuel, God is With Us is Now Available on Kindle

Advent Devotional 2021 – December 2nd

PRAYER

Take a moment to become still, aware of God’s presence, and then pray:

Loving Father, we thank you for the profound meaning and beauty of these days of Advent. In the midst of what can be a busy and hurried season we ask that you would calm our hearts and minds to be ready to receive. Reveal the glory of your beloved Son who dwelt among us to make us more like Him. Amen

REFLECTION

It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
Hebrews 2:10-11

“Why can’t we have Christmas all year!” I remember as a boy saying those exact words to my parents. I never wanted Christmas to end. Years later as a pastor I would conduct “Christmas in July” worship services. I thought if merchants could celebrate Christmas in July, so could we! Christmas is far too wonderful to try and cram it into a few hurried days. How do creatures of dust begin to grasp the magnitude of meaning in God coming to us as a tiny baby in a manger!

I am helped in thinking about the deep meaning of Christmas by C. S. Lewis in his book Miracles:

“In the Christian story God descends to re-ascend. He comes down, from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity, down further still, down to the very roots and seabed of the nature He had created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get Himself underneath some great, complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift. He must also disappear under the load before He incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on His shoulders.”

The breathtaking news of Christmas is that “God revealed that He loves us more than He loves Himself”, (Thomas Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons) and that “God does not will to be God without us.” (Church Dogmatics IV/1) In that stench of a stable and on the cross God proves there are no limits to how far He will go to share life with us. The Son of God makes Himself small, becoming the Son of Man so that we might be the sons and daughters of God.

As our country passes through a difficult time, it is helpful to remember that today’s scripture was addressed to Christians who suffered for following Jesus (Hebrews 10:32-34). It is good to be reminded that Jesus came “bringing many sons and daughters to glory.” He is not ashamed to call us “brothers and sisters”. He descended low into our humanity so that we might ascend with Him to glory.

Athanasius, the early, bold defender of the Gospel, explained Jesus’ mission: “For that was the very purpose of our Lord’s incarnation, that He should join what is man by nature to Him who is by nature God.” (St. Athanasius: Selected Works and Letters, “Against the Arians”) “Christ shares to the full in what we are, and so He makes it possible to share in what He is, in His divine life and glory. He became what we are, so as to make us what He is.” (Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way)

Today’s scripture says that God thought it “fitting”, or in keeping with His character, to so give Himself for us. It was “fitting” for God “for whom and through whom all things exist” to humble Himself to lift us up.

The Son of God made Himself poor like us, vulnerable and helpless, a person of flesh and blood, our brother. “That, indeed, is why the Father sent Him, that we who have rejected Him might be brought back – and brought back not merely as creatures, but as children, to enjoy the abounding love the Son has always known.” (Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith)

The Son of God stooped low at Christmas to satisfy His Father’s longing for us to rise up to Him. This is something to celebrate all year long!

WORSHIP

Think back over the past 24 hours and note when you experienced a “high” and a “low”. Share with God how the humanity of Jesus might speak to you in what you experienced.

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