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The First Sunday of Advent 2018

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The Coming of Jesus Christ – so momentous is this event that we spend a month preparing for it.  Part of the reason it is so momentous is because it is so hard to actually comprehend.

This has been a difficult year in the United States of America – literally storm, flood, fire and earthquake.  We all are deeply concerned for our citizens that have suffered so tremendously this year.  Why just in the California wildfires, the wildlife displacement and death is staggering.  Now imagine, your heart is tugged to help the wildlife..  In order to help them the only path open to you was to burn your house and possessions to the ground, giving up everything and then undergoing a series of painful surgeries until you too were a bobcat or coyote or desert rat.  Moreover, you were going to permanently have to live the life of the animal you had become – even after you had helped them all.  In other words you had to sacrifice everything and get nothing in return while perpetually helping the others that lost.  The analogy is very imperfect, but that is a bit what the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus Christ, is like.

We think of Christmas as a time of plenty, but from God’s perspective it is a time of deepest sacrifice.  We celebrate the plenty because we are recipients of the unimaginable sacrifice God made.  But if we are true Jesus followers, should we not sacrifice as well?  One of my devotionals this week past looked at the fact that our ministry is not limited to that which we do at the organization and facility we call “church.”  But rather everything a Christian does should be “ministry.”

So, when you do your daily work in service to Christ and to others on his behalf, you are part of the church in ministry.

We can never serve as Christ served, we lack the supernatural capabilities, but we can sacrifice deeply.  Note the phrase “in service to Christ and to others on his behalf.”  As Christians we are called to ministry, at Christmas just as much as the rest of the year.

The Salvation Army is not an organization we think of as “church,”  but they do work in Christ’s name, on His behalf and they are tremendously efficient in their use of donations.  Not all of us have the skills and abilities to directly help those displaced or otherwise injured by this year’s uncountable disasters.  But we all, and I do mean all, have the ability to contribute to the efforts of those that are so equipped.  I emphasize the “all” because if we think sacrificially, as God did at that first Christmas, then we do have something to contribute.

Every time we turn around it seems like the host is asking for another donation to another Christian organization.  By Christmas sometimes I just want to enjoy the season.  But that is not, when we think about it, the real “reason for the season.”  It is a season of sacrifice more than even the hearth and home and plenty we typically associate with it – this year especially when the needs are so tremendous, so immediate, and so close to home.

May I humbly suggest that as you consider what to put in the host’s Red Kettle this year, that whatever you decide, add 10% – make it hard.  Make it sacrificial.  That is the spirit of Christmas.


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