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Monthly Message

IS THIS ADVENT REALLY DIFFERENT?

Advent 2015 has a different feel about it than Advents past;

how could it not? The terrorist bombings in Paris have shaken all of us.

   

We believe, because Jesus repeatedly insisted, that He will return one day and while this is a tenant of our faith, if we’re honest, it’s probably a weaker tenant, but not because we don’t believe it. Rather, it’s because we are aware of just how much time has passed since Jesus left earth, and what’s happened in the meantime. Things have not gotten better. You might be surprised, as I was, to learn that God’s people were experiencing much the same thing during the first Advent of Jesus.

 Jesus was born during the rule of Caesar Augustus, during a time known as the Pax Ro-mana, “The Peace of Rome.” A Roman citizen might use this title, a Jew wouldn’t, and many didn’t. A Jew would call it “Roman Occupation.” We all know what happens during times of occupation (see the West Bank) and in Jesus’ day, things were no different. Josephus writes about extremist groups called “Zealots.” He even uses the familiar term “terrorists” to refer to groups who were rampant carrying out any number of atrocities during the very time when Jesus’ ministry was in full gear. Mere coincidence? Highly doubt it.

You’ll remember when Jesus’ disciples were ready for a fight (Gethsemane), asking when Jesus would restore the kingdom to Israel (overthrowing Rome). These moments underscore the volatile and violent environment into which the Prince of Peace entered, but something far more important is going on than a repetition of history.What did Jesus teach His disciples when they wanted blood? He taught them that instead of returning evil for evil, they were to turn the other cheek. Vengeance was God’s, not theirs. Blood would be shed, certainly, but it would be blood shed not just to get even, only perpetuating more violence, it would be blood of the New Covenant, shed on the cross. The disciples were to be people of forgiveness and mercy. Where there was hatred, they were to sow love. Where there was strife, they were agents of peace. In short, they were to be people different from the non-believing, angry, hateful, blood-thirsty mob.

 We all want so badly for our world to be peaceful, for Satan’s grip to be loosened. We want senseless killing and terrorist attacks to end. Now. We’re fed up with it. There’s a strong tendency in us, just like the disciples, to fight back. We let our government fight the earthly battle; the battle we need to fight, with the Spirit’s help, is the battle within us, the one that seeks to destroy the teachings of Christ, seeks to tell us that things like love, forgiveness, faith and hope don’t matter and don’t make a difference in this life. Wrong. They most certainly matter in this life! God became a man, who came to earth to teach other men how to live this life on earth.

I pray earnestly for Christ’s second Advent, and I know you do, too. Jesus is coming back. I wish He would come back today. We are more than ready. Until then, we do as Christ bids us do, devote ourselves to His teachings, not losing hope, but fighting the good fight of faith, confident that the cross and the resurrection are not in vain.

Pastor Mark

Posted by Monthly Message at 3:48 PM

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