Brad Berkan – Worship Pastor
For many years it was my tradition at Christmas to take in a live performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Tom Wood’s stage adaptation of the book and his portrayal of the crotchety old Scrooge was magical. As a bit of a theatre buff, I was always impressed with the incredibly creative interpretations which the artistic team brought to the expressions of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Each time period had its own look, its own feel, its own personality.
As we turn our eyes towards Jesus this Advent season, we see Jesus as the ultimate expression of this concept of past, present and future. He is the one who was, who is, and who is to come (Rev 1:8). He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). We can even understand His Coming in these three times:
The Coming of Christ – in the Flesh in Bethlehem
The Coming of Christ – in our Hearts Daily
The Coming of Christ in Glory – at the End of Time
During the first week of advent, we will focus our sights on the shepherds. Through their encounter with The Baby, shepherds were changed from timid men to confident men proclaiming Christ. Which raises the question “Is it possible to truly engage with Christ and not be changed?”
As we enter the second week of advent, we will shift our focus to the innkeeper. Initially, the innkeeper didn’t have room for Jesus, which raises the question, “Do we make room in our hearts for Christ on a daily basis?” This can be seen as a two-part question – a salvation question for people who have never entered into relationship with Jesus – and a discipleship question for those who are in relationship with Jesus, “are you making room for Him on a daily basis – and not just fitting Him in when there is time?” How does Jesus make a difference in your life on a daily basis?
The third week of advent sees our focus shift from His first coming, to His promised return in Glory. Advent is not only a time to look back and remember the first coming of Christ – but is a time we look forward, with great anticipation, for Christ’s return. With the political unrest we are currently witnessing around the world, many people are thinking about “the last days” and the end of the world. But are we truly ready for Christ to return? Is it the longing of our hearts, as it was for the early church? When we sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” are we only remembering the longing of Israel for His first coming, or is this song the desire of our heart for Christ’s return? If we believe that Christ’s return is imminent, how does that affect the way we interact with the non-believers that have been placed in our circle of influence?
It has been a great pleasure working with our staff and the Worship Design Team on this Advent Devotional Project. A big thank-you to all who contributed readings! I am so thankful you were willing to share what God has laid on your hearts, and I am excited to see how these readings will impact our congregations as we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation – Emmanuel – God With Us.