First Baptist Church Marshallville
Wednesday, August 04, 2021
Rooted in the Past -- Growing Into Our Future

From the Under Shepherd Nov 28, 2011

Living in the Interim Time
    This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent.   Rather than thinking of the approach of Christmas in terms of shopping days left, Advent reminds us that “…we are at the brink of something utterly new, long yearned for but beyond our capacity to enact.” (Texts for Preaching, Year A, p. 1)    Advent serves to prepare us spiritually for the celebration of Christmas as the birth of our Savior rather than a sum accumulated on a credit card.
    Our church lights candles each Sunday of Advent.   Interestingly, Advent approaches the birth of our Savior backwards.   So on the first Sunday of Advent we light the candle of Anticipation (or Expectation).   In what some would consider an odd twist, the first Sunday in Advent points us forward rather than backward, for the emphasis is on future rather than past. 
     Isaiah (63:1-64:12) prays for a time when God will "rend the heavens" and come down to save his people from their adversaries, even though he acknowledges that this people are receiving their just desserts due to their sin.   The prophet looks toward the restoration of Israel, a restoration which he knows can occur only by the power of Israel's great King.   The passage exudes anticipation and hope for a future where indeed "Our God reigns!"   Isaiah's hope is fulfilled in the first Advent, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.
     But the emphasis for this day is found in our New Testament text which points beyond the first Advent, as Mark (13) records Jesus’ words reminding us that we need to be alert as to the signs of the second coming of the Son of Man.   “Be on guard” is the command of our Lord to his followers as we live in the "interim" (between the two Advents) time and go about both the profound and mundane acts of our lives.   Jesus has indeed come (as anticipated by Isaiah), but he will come again to take us to the place he has prepared for us (see John 14:3).
    Through the four Sundays of Advent the Church remembers the one who came two millennia ago, and who will come again.   Jesus broke into history; life on Earth has not been the same.   He will come again; history will radically change again.   Do you believe this?   Then, rejoice!   Celebrate Jesus!