June 4, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”—Romans 8:22 (NIV)
Did you know the Church has a calendar? From the Old Testament to today, God’s people have celebrated and remembered God’s work in seasons throughout the year. These seasons are formally known as the Church Calendar—something the Church has been following for over 1,500 years! This Calendar invites us to center and re-order our lives around the Christian story: Advent (the birth of Jesus), Epiphany (the manifestation of Jesus), Lent (the temptation and death of Jesus), Easter (the resurrection of Jesus), and Pentecost (the Spirit of Jesus).
The Church Calendar begins with the season of Advent—the days leading up to Christmas Day. For long stretches of history before Jesus was born, God’s people were desperately longing for their Messiah to come. That’s why Advent is a season of longing. My friend Tommy likes to say, “Advent is like a song written in minor key.” It points to a longing that comes out of deep desperation; and yet, is pointed forward in hope.
When we look around our world today, we see only fragments of a Genesis 1 world. We see that beautiful pieces of creation have been broken and damaged by sin and evil–and it’s only getting worse. When we turn on the TV or scroll on Facebook, we become face-to-face with the constant state of worry, despair, uncertainty, and pain that is so prevalent today.
What do we do in response? We groan. Why? Because we know deep inside this isn’t the way it was supposed to be. We long for a world made new, a world made right. Well-known Christmas songs put our groaning and longing into lyrics:
Joy to the World:
“No more may sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infect the ground. For he comes to make his blessings flow. Far as the curse is found . . .”
The author is talking about the curse of sin. How many of you wish the sin you’re wrestling with would be wiped away?
Hark the Herald:
“Mild he lays his glory by. Born that men no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth . . .”
How many of you lost a loved one? Perhaps during the holiday season, you find yourself missing them and longing for a way to bring them back.
O Holy Night:
“Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease . . .”
How many of you see the brokenhearted and wish the lonely, neglected, and oppressed had an advocate?
The answer to those longings is found in the gift of Christmas: JESUS.
“O Holy Night” sets the stage by saying that on that holy night when Jesus was born, “the stars are brightly shining” over a world groaning for a new hope. While Christmas is full of hope because Jesus has indeed come, Advent invites us to sit and ponder the sin and decay of our world while longing for Jesus to come again and make it new. This month is a season of groaning, longing for the Savior who would wipe every tear from every eye and make all things new (Revelation 21:4–5).
During Advent each year, the Christian year teaches us to once again become Israel, recognizing our sin and need, that waiting, longing, hoping, calling, praying for the coming of the Messiah, the advent of justice, and the in-breaking of shalom. We go through the ritual of desiring the kingdom–a kind of holy impatience–by re-enacting Israel’s longing for the coming of the King. We are called to be a people of expectancy–looking for the coming (again) of the Messiah.—James K.A. Smith
Pause: When you look at the world around you, what parts do you want God to make new?
Practice: Write down the parts of your life you want Jesus to make new. What area(s) of your life do you need to surrender to Him?
Prayer: Jesus, break my heart for what breaks Yours. I know there are parts of the world that grieve Your heart. Open my eyes to see the spiritual state of the world around me. Soften my heart towards those that seem so spiritually lost. Fill my hands with opportunities to enter deeply into Your mission of redemption and renewal. Amen.
Jimmy Purchase serves as the Groups Development Director at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Church Planting from Capital Seminary & Graduate School. He has been in full-time ministry since 2006, has helped plant two churches, and is passionate about seeing South Florida changed by the gospel of Jesus. Jimmy and his wife, Erin, have been married since 2008 and have three children.