O Come Emanuel

Advent. Webster’s dictionary defines Advent as the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. For Christians, Advent is a time to celebrate the coming of Christ. We celebrate by setting aside four Sundays devoted to four different Advent themes: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. But according to a devotional I read by Nancy Wolgemuth the main theme of Advent can be found in just one word. She writes, “If you were to identity the No. 1 theme in Christmas carols, you’d find there’s not even a close second. The one-word answer? Come.” She makes her point by providing the examples of “O Come, O Come Emanuel,” “Come thou long expected Jesus,” “Come to my heart, Lord Jesus.” Wolgemuth writes, “The Messiah had repeatedly been promised and prayed for. For hundreds of years, a roster of fringe candidates trotted themselves out as seeming possibilities. But they all came and went. That was the pattern: Come and go. Never come and stay. Never come and change things. Never come and save our lives for what others have done to us and what we’ve done to ourselves. And yet, ‘When the fullness of time had COME,’ God the Father sent Jesus (Galatians 4:4). He came.”

Christ came. He stayed. He changed things and He alone saved us and continues to save us. When Christ came into the world, God’s love invaded the world on a never before seen scale and we are still grappling with the meaning of this sacrificial, unconditional, and all-consuming love. Christ’s love defeated sin and death and He offers us eternal, abundant life and we’ve done absolutely nothing to earn this great gift. His coming to earth and into our lives was pure, unmerited gift, the very definition of grace.

As I reflect on the meaning of Advent I am reminded of one of my favorite Christmas carols, “O Come all ye faithful.” All the songs I mentioned earlier are about Christ coming to us, but “O Come all ye Faithful” is about us coming to Christ. The song encourages us to be “Joyful and triumphant,” as we come to “Behold and adore” Him. Notice that language please. When is the last time that you’ve felt joyful and triumphant? When is the last time you paused to behold and adore Christ? This Advent season perhaps we can reflect on Christ’s arrival anew and reconsider what He means to us. Have you ever considered where you’d be in life without Christ? For me, I’d be utterly, hopelessly lost. Christ has done so much for me. He’s forgiven me of my sins. He’s answered countless prayers in unexpected ways and he’s given me purpose, meaning and hope. Thank God that Christ came and he came to me, He’s for me. And Christ comes to you, and He’s for you! Think on that and then behold him, adore him, worship and praise him. I pray that our worship in December would truly reflect our gratefulness to God for sending Christ to us.

OI want to mention several things we’ve got planned for our December worship services. On December 3rd we’re going have some of our Bethel Children to place the final ornaments on the Advent Christmas Tree and then we will light the tree. We will also have the first lighting of the Advent Candle and we’ll begin singing our beloved Christmas Carols. We’ll also share communion on the 3rd. So, please COME. On December 10th our Children’s Committee is planning a Birthday Party for Jesus immediately following the worship service. Our Puppet Team will perform during the worship service and also after the service at the party. In addition to the puppets, the party will include food, games, fellowship and fun! So please invite some families that have children and COME! In our Worship service on December 17th we’ll have our Christmas Cantata. Stephanie, Cathy, the Choir and the Circle of Truth have been working hard on this musical offering since early September. So COME, listen and be blessed! Finally, on the 24th we’ll worship our Lord both in the morning service at 10:30 and again at 5:30 for our very special Candle Light Communion Service. So COME! COME all ye faithful of Bethel. Come joyful and triumphant! COME let us behold Him. Born the King of angels. COME let us adore him. For He is Christ our Lord. Amen. May God bless you and may God bless Bethel this Advent Season. Merry Christmas.