We are Still Waiting

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“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” –Genesis 3:15

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” –Revelation 21:3-5

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." -2 Peter 3:9

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People do a lot of waiting at this time of year. Lines abound at stores as we hurry to buy all our gifts. Frustrations mount, as everything seems to take so much longer at the same time that we feel such a rush to do everything so quickly. We feel stuck in waiting.

The first prophecy of the coming of the Messiah was at the beginning of humanity, not tens, not hundreds, but thousands of years before Jesus arrived. There was a posture of waiting and anticipating the day of Jesus’ arrival since some of the first days of our existence.

The waiting did not stop at the first Advent. It has now been thousands of years again since prophecies were uttered about Jesus’ second coming. When finally, FINALLY, all things will be made completely right. When what began in his first coming will come to full fruition.

Many days, I walk around as if I am not waiting. I am fortunate in my circumstances and I lose sight of how this world is still a mess. I become blind to the daily struggles of so many who live in this world.

But then, something happens that wakes me up. This world’s brokenness slaps me in the face, and I remember that I am still waiting. Waiting for this world to be made right. Waiting for God to keep His promise. Waiting for Satan’s power to be crushed forever. Waiting for tears to be wiped away for good.

We are still waiting. We are still longing for a Savior.

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O Dear Savior, we need You. Come relieve our waiting. Come keep Your promise. Come rescue this world. Come wipe away our tears. Come end our pain. Come set things right for good. Come with Your peace, come with Your joy, come with Your grace, come with Your hope, and set this world right once and for all. Be with us in our waiting. Help us to be patient, and yet help us never give up our longing for You. Come Lord Jesus. Amen.

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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – Future of Forestry

“Oh come thou day-spring come and cheer Our spirits by thine advent here Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death's dark shadows put to flight”


NoticingImmanuel

Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.

Advent Series Day 24: spontaneous joy

Life holds many great moments. Moments of beauty, of wonder, of excitement, of victory, of love. In these moments, no one has to tell us to feel something.

No one has to tell a groom that he should be happy to see his bride walk down the aisle. No one has to tell tourists to the Grand Canyon that they should take pictures of what is in front of them. No one has to tell sports fans that they should cheer when their team wins.

No one has to tell a college student that he should be excited when his last exam is finished. No one has to tell a mother that she should smile when she holds her newborn baby in her arms.

True joy is spontaneous.

There was true joy the night of Jesus’ birth.

It’s interesting to me that so many of our sacred Christmas songs are slow and reflective. There is definite value to that. In fact, some of my personal favorites  are slow. (Anyone else adore the song O Holy Night?)

But sometimes, I think these songs give the wrong impression. They give the impression that we need to create our own joy at Christmas. That for solemn reflection we look to the church, and for lighthearted joy, we look to the world. That without Santa, and decorations, and presents, there would be no joy at Christmas.

We forget that the first song of Christmas, the song of the angels, was a song of great joy.

When Jesus was born, heaven burst into applause.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – Luke 2:8-20

All of heaven and earth had been waiting for this night. Waiting for thousands of years for the Messiah to come.

I love the word “suddenly” in this passage. It makes me think that the heavenly host couldn’t help it. They could hold back no longer. It was time for them to release their joy and burst into praise.

Why is this such a joyful moment?

Because the birth of Jesus brings not only a baby, it brings gifts. The gift of a world rescued. The gift of grace. The gift of promises fulfilled.  The gift of God's presence with us. The gift of hearts and lives at peace. The gift of answered prayer. The gift of forgiveness. The gift of eternal life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -  John 3:16

The time of waiting is over. The Messiah has come.

JOY to the world.

Advent Series Day 13: the Lord has not forgotten

When I was nine or ten, I was more excited about Halloween than I had ever been. I lived in a country neighborhood, so trick or treating was not stellar. There was candy available, but it was spread out. A friend said her mom was taking her to a place with more houses and better candy. She promised to come pick me up to take me there with her. I was so excited. I was ready and waiting in my costume before she was scheduled to arrive. So I sat in my living room and waited.

… and waited… and waited… until I realized… she wasn’t coming. I was forgotten.

I sat in my living room, drenching my costume in tears. I couldn’t bring myself to go trick or treating by myself. I just stayed home and handed our candy out to the other kids.

Nothing feels worse than being on the bad end of a broken promise.

Isaiah and Jeremiah are filled with God’s judgment against a people who had strayed from him. They are filled with bad news of exile. Jewish readers and listeners might protest by saying,

“But what about Your promises? How can you remove these kings from their thrones when you promised that a descendant of David would always reign?”

God answers that question with the Messiah.

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior. – Jeremiah 23:5-6

God is removing David’s descendant from the throne in Jeremiah’s time, but He has not forgotten. The exile will not be forever. The Messiah will come- the descendant of David- the worthy and righteous King.

God does not forget His promises.

With the first Advent of Christ, the descendant of David, God sends Our Righteous Savior.

… if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. – 1 John 2:1b-2

Christ is the righteous Messiah who saves us from our sins. God’s promise of restored relationship is fulfilled.

With the second Advent of Christ, more of God’s promises will be fulfilled. Things will be made right once and for all. Christ will reign wisely as King and do what is just.

We look forward to this day.

But how do we know it is true? It has been over 2000 years since Christ’s first Advent. Will He really come again?

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?... But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  -2 Peter 3:3-4a, 8-9

God has a plan. Everything is happening within the timeline He has set forth. He has not forgotten us. He will return again when the time is right.

In the meantime

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. – 2 Peter 3:14

We are not forgotten. The Messiah will return.