The Advent Changes everything. Before Jesus stepped into the scene, God coming to help out directly seemed like an anomaly in an otherwise closed universe. Humanity was enslaved to the merciless consistency of cause and effect. Cause: sin. Effect: death. Cause: sin. Effect: pain. Cause: sin. Effect: brokenness. But that was before Advent—before the chain was broken, when the lid to universe was opened from the top and the creator stepped in.
You and I and everyone else who has put their ultimate hope in Jesus will be singing for ten thousand forevers of the mystery and effect of the Advent. So, I'm not going to pretend to unpack it all in one brief blog. But I do think that it's worth a moment, given the season, to consider a few very important ways the Advent changes everything.
The Advent means Nobody is a Nobody ...there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them... (Lk. 2:8b-9a)
Shepherds were nobodies. Shepherds in the backwoods of Bethlehem, which was in the backwoods of Jerusalem, were the nobodies of nobodies. And yet, God sent legions of angels to sing in their presence of the birth of Jesus—them! If God almighty chooses to reveal the good news of the Gospel of Jesus first and foremost to the nobodies of the world, then everyone—without exception—qualifies to hear it. No one is too low, too unimportant, nor too high and self-important, to miss it. When God's armies show up to nobodies, all of a sudden they become somebodies. Now, nobody is a nobody. That's great news, especially if you've ever been tempted to think yourself too small or unimportant for God to use you or speak to you. If you're small, then you qualify.
The Advent Means God is Incomprehensibly Loving And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Lk. 2:10-11)
Love can be measured by the cost of its givenness. That is, you love someone only in proportion to your willingness to sacrifice for them. The Advent therefore can only mean that God is incomprehensibly loving, because he gave in the most helpless and humble state his own son to a race of beings which deserved him least. If God has done such a thing, then questions of his love for humanity are now answered with an unshakable proof—he gave us his son. He loves us, and the Advent makes this a settled fact.
The Advent means We can be Changed And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Lk. 2:20)
The shepherds came back to their fields changed. That's precisely what the Advent does—when Jesus comes to us, and we come to him, the only right response is exactly what the shepherds did—worship. The delight of the heart into which Jesus has come is worship. This is the feast for the hunger after God. This is the consummation of the love of God. And, this the proof positive that these shepherds where changed, all because of an encounter with Jesus. And if Jesus can change them, then good news: he can change me too.
Tonight was a great night—easily the most successful Christmas event we at Aletheia have ever done. My prayer, though, goes way past numbers or meetings. My prayer is that width would be quickly accompanied by depth. My prayer after a great Sunday night like tonight is that, in my great city, the news of the Advent of the Son of God would change absolutely everything.