I was watching commercials yesterday, briefly interrupted by the the Vikings/Packers game, and one of them managed to offend me faster than most commercials ever do. The main slogan of the ad was this, “Thanksgiving is the time for getting.” The ad ended with a very disturbing twist, changing the word “Thanksgiving” into “Thanksgetting”.
Not the way most of us learned about Thanksgiving or Christmas. Maybe this company succeeded in grabbing my attention for a couple of seconds, but they also chilled me to the bone. Thanksgetting? Really?! I guess this company’s ad writers found it necessary to appeal to our most base and (dare I say) sinful nature so we might consider buying their product. Because what we really want is, well, what we can get. For ourselves.
That is the world that we live in, especially at this time of the year.
There is another way to look at this time of year. It’s the exact opposite of getting and it begins with considering the significance of the Advent season. The time we remember and anticipate God giving himself - perfect, holy, humble, and glorious.
The word Advent is a version of the old Latin word, Adventus, which simply means “coming”. For centuries the Christian Church has observed this four week time leading up to Christmas Day with candle lightings, readings, hymn singing and other special worship times. We do these things to focus our hearts and minds on the one that God the Father sent to fulfill all the promises he has made. Only Jesus, the servant king, will establish justice, peace, hope, and ultimately an eternal, glorified reign. All of creation longs eagerly (Romans 8:19ff) in anticipation of this reign. We join with creation in waiting, longing, and seeking this king to come.
Concerning his own coming, Jesus said,
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many,” Mark 10:45
He came to give his life, to save the world (John 12:47). We have the wonderful opportunity to remember, at his first coming, what he gave so that his kingdom could invade this world and be established and grow in our hearts.
This year we will take time away from our current teaching series to consider what this coming King and his kingdom look like. Not our getting, but his giving, will guide our thinking during Advent. Each Sunday, beginning with November 29th and continuing through Christmas Eve, we will look at a different story from the Bible that contributes to the unfolding plan of God. Old (original) and New Testament have plenty to say that will help us understand how this King is so amazing, how his kingdom can be so different, and what receiving this king as yours really means today.