Welcome to Advent! A season of waiting for what is “to come”…
Isaiah 11 will be our guide:
Isaiah spoke of the coming
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people… Isaiah 11.1-2, 10-11
Out of the stump of Jesse comes every family tree. If you slow down and look closely you’ll see it. Growing, emerging, shaping us as Jesus shares his forever Love story of hope, joy, peace and love.
Our story begins, in the beginning.
In the beginning…It’s how the story begins. It’s so much better than “Once upon a time…” “Once upon a time” is a fairy tale of them, at some point, that’s nice, fun, even entertaining to hear. Nothing wrong with that.
But when the story starts “In the beginning…” it calls deep within. It’s not their story at one point in time, out there, to be entertained by. It’s a story where we lean in, it calls to us, it speaks to us, it reminds us of how the story out there shapes the story within.
In the beginning…and the story starts with a kiss – God shaping from the dust of the ground and then bending deep to kiss life into us. And warmth entered our body and we became alive from the love a Father-King who loves us.
Our story begins with a kiss because it is the most intimate image of connection and belonging. It tells us that we are seen, that we belong to God and he belongs to us, that we have something to offer, and something to receive.
As we come into the Church’s New Year, and the Advent Season, this is how we will wait:
–The Jesse Tree will guide us. Each week we will remember the stories. We’ll provide you with the weekly symbols and ornaments, the Bible references, and the daily devotion. You can also find them here. Each Sunday declare what Christ was going to fulfill:
- Week 1: Christ, the New and Last Adam
- Week 2: Jesus, the New Moses
- Week 3: Isaiah’s Christ the Prophet
- Week 4: Jesus, the Son of Man
–We’ll go on a journey. Like the Wise men, the shepherds, even Mary and Joseph take a journey, during the service we’ll invite you to engage with prayer stations set up in the sanctuary. Each shaped around invitations of Advent Conspiracy to:
- Spend Less
- Give More
- Love All
- Worship Fully
–Then we’ll gather around the Communion Table, you’ll hear a message of Waiting, Watching, Wondering, and Witnessing Christ as we build to Christmas-Christ’’s celebration!
And so, we return to the beginning, to Adam. It’s good for us recall how things were “in the beginning…” God creates the world and humanity. Not as a science project to tinker and toy with to see what happens if he does this or does that… But God creates out of his generous spirit. Those who are generous in spirit experience the goodness that life offers, AND they want others to have their share in that goodness. God wanted to share the goodness of life. This is where God creates from.
John’s gospel tells us that the goodness of life was one which was shared between a spiritual community between- God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Then in 1 Corinthians 15:45, Paul, the apostle, compares Jesus to Adam: Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” This is one of those very simple scripture verses that packs a wallop theologically.
Paul delves into this in Romans 5.12-19, where he points out the difference between the first Adam and two kinds of bodies, i.e., the natural and the spiritual. Genesis 2:7 speaks of the first man, Adam, becoming a living person. Adam was made from the dust of the ground and given the breath of life (Imageo Deo) from God. Every human being since that time shares the same characteristics.
However, the last Adam or the “second Adam”—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. Just as Adam was the first of humanity, so Christ is the first of those who will be raised from the dead to eternal life. Because Christ rose from the dead, He is “a life-giving spirit” who entered into a new form of existence. He is the source of the spiritual life that will result in believers’ resurrection. Christ’s new glorified human body now suits His new, glorified, spiritual life—just as Adam’s human body was suitable to his natural life. When believers are resurrected, God will give them transformed, eternal bodies suited to eternal life.
Since all humanity is bound up with Adam, so every human being has an earthly body just like Adam’s. Earthly bodies are fitted for life on this earth, yet they are limited by death, disease, and weakness because of sin which we’ve seen was first brought into the world by Adam.
However, the good news is that we can know with certainty that those who follow Christ will have heavenly bodies just like Christ’s—imperishable, eternal, glorious, and filled with power. At this time, all are like Adam; one day, all believers will be like Christ (Philippians 3:21). The Apostle John wrote to the believers, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
May your waiting during this Advent season be active, as you remember the stories of scripture that still speak to us today, as you journey in unexpected ways for the Advent of Emmanuel!