Today's service was family style, so we kept the sermon short as we walked through selections from Luke 1, focusing in on the expectant hope we have in Jesus.
I wrote rambling reflection after the service today, so in hopes that it will stir your own heart, here it is
Today I was reminded that Advent is a celebration of fulfilled promise. God said He was going to come, and He did. Jesus said He would return for us, and Advent, the celebration of His first coming, is mean to rekindle our hope in that second coming. It's easy to relegate Christmas to an event that happened long ago, but it truly is a foretaste of redemption.
Still dwelling on our second song today -
Come thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in thee
The weight of this is immense. The entire Old Testament is a story of God going after His rebellious people, as they run from Him and worship pretend gods and break His commandments and disbelieve His promise. And yet it's a promise that will be fulfilled. Faithful prophets from of old proclaim, "Messiah is coming! He will save us! Repent and turn to Him!". John will proclaim this. And Jesus Himself will preach the same repentance.
Because God comes down Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Emmanuel. God with us. Sin and fear are both rooted in the same thing - failure to trust God. Disbelief in His character and His promise. And Christ's coming is a fulfillment of promise. For the Israelites then, and for us now, Advent is a guarantee that God is who He says He is.
In Luke, when Zechariah speaks after nine months of silence, He praises God for having redeemed His people (1:68).
And this is before.
Before Messiah's birth. Before crucifixion. Before resurrection. Before the Holy Spirit comes as the guaranteer of the new covenant. Before our redemption and resurrection into eternal glory. Zechariah knows the fullness of our hope in Jesus, and what rest we have in Him. He will always be faithful, and when He says He will come, it's as good as done.
We are free to live as children of the promise, right now, because as we celebrate Christ's birth, we also celebrate that we have been born again to a living hope (1 Peter 1:3).
His name is Jesus.
Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart. 2. Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.