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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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God Comes To Man

The Advent season is upon us. Christmas will arrive all too soon. However, it is possible to miss the spiritual benefits of this time we have set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. How will you take part in this Advent and Christmas season? What do you hope to experience? John M. Buchanan is pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. Below, he shares with us his thoughts on Advent:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 ESV)

Experts in human culture, particularly our post-Enlightenment, rational, Western, consumer culture, concluded a long time ago that the question of God would be more and more marginalized—that the more educated and scientific we became, the less we’d need God, and the more secure and comfortable we became, the less we’d be interested in God. We live in the post-Christian, post-religious age, it is said. God, some announced, was clearly dead; the idea of God, the need for God, the search for God, was essentially dead, and religion would soon follow.

It hasn’t happened, of course. As a matter of fact, those same scholars are now saying that we are living in the midst of a religious boom and that the topic of God has never been hotter—or more relevant, for that matter.

And so we come to Advent, which seems somehow more precious than ever. . . .

Advent unapologetically invites us to look back into time, all the way back to the time before Jesus, back to the time of his humble birth, and back in our own time, back in memory to the previous Christmases we have experienced in our own lives: the family traditions, the customs lovingly preserved year after year, the favorite recipes, the worn tree ornaments, the star Scotch-taped together, carefully removed from its box to shine one more year. And Advent invites us to look forward to the fulfillment of human history, to the ongoing process of redemption and salvation, and to look forward to God’s continuing activity in our own lives. Advent is about God—a God who came into human history in Jesus Christ and a God who promises to continue coming into your history and mine, the history still ahead of us. . . .

Advent is precious because it comes at the darkest time of the year, just when we most need it, to speak an important and good word about God. . . .

Advent invites us to be watchful and alert for that God: the God who is our creator and judge but supremely our redeemer; the God who loves us with an everlasting love from which nothing, not even death itself, can separate us.

Advent comes quietly to invite us—all of us: lifelong believers, skeptics, seekers, the curious, and unbelievers—invites all of us to ponder for a moment a most incredible, most improbable idea: namely that a humble birth in Bethlehem of Judea is the Advent of God, the coming of God into our lives. . . .

Advent is an invitation to trust that God: to give your heart to that God, to trust your future to the God who promises to be with you and to come into your life with healing and hope and peace. (“The Advent of God”)

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