Reflections on how Christians help each other to grow and mature in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Meaning of the Season

“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

“To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

“Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him,
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.”

“’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:4-8).

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28).

These texts reveal to us what this season is really about. It’s a time for self-examination and repentance. It’s time to remember that Christ is coming again as the Son of Man who will judge the Church and the world according to their fruits. He’s not going to be looking at the purity of our doctrine and orthodoxy. When Christ judges us he is going to look at the way we have lived our lives. He’s going to look at how well we have loved God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He’s going to look especially at how we have lived out our love for God through the way we have loved those whom God loves: our neighbors, our enemies, and ourselves. Love will be the measure against which Christ will judge the Church and each person.

Christ will look to see if our love is Cross-shaped. Is it a reflection of his love for the world? Is our love self-giving and willing to suffer? Is our life together characterized by compassion and justice? Do we love one another as Christ loves? Do we love our enemies and those who persecute us?

Advent helps the Church to remember that the Triune God is Lord of the universe who seeks those who will give themselves completely and unreservedly to him and his self-giving, suffering love.

Here’s a powerful Advent hymn from Charles Wesley:

Lo, he comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending swell
The triumph of his train.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him,
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold him,
Pierced and nailed him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

The dear tokens of his passion still
His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation to
His ransomed worshipers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture,
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! Let all adore thee,
High on thy eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for thine own.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Everlasting God, come down!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my favourite hymns. We shall definitely be singing it tomorrow morning.

(On a somewhat different subject, I've received a little pamphlet from Methodist Church House in London promoting the "Covenant Discipleship Groups" of the UMC General Board of Discipleship. It has a familiar email address. :-)

2:43 PM

Blogger Steven Manskar said...

Thanks for your comments. I think you're the only one reading this blog. I always appreciate your feedback.

Yes, I've received quite a response from the CDG brochure that was received by the Methodist ministers in Britain this week.

I wish our congregation would sing the hymn I posted tomorrow, but I'm not expecting we will.

5:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, I doubt I'm the only one reading the blog, but possibly the only one with enough chutzpah to comment.

It's interesting to see the hymns that are known in different regions. This is a pretty well-known hymn in the UK.

When I interned with my all-African church in London last year, they didn't know it. At choir practice, the choir said "We don't like it", because it was not familiar. I responded by rather enthusiastically "shouting" "Yes!!! Amen!!!! Let all adore him!!! with my hands in the air. At the end of my enthusing about what a wonderful hymn it was, I had them dancing. (Now if only English people would dance their praises to God!)

On the subject of small groups. I'm going to try to go to the conference here in March that we were also offered. I'm still trying to figure out how on earth one actually gets people to attend these things, but I think they are important for really growing in discipleship. Thank you for all your hard work.

9:51 AM


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