The Big House

Read John 14:1-3

There are many varieties of houses in this world. Some people live in small, one-room homes while others have places to live which have over twenty rooms. The materials used to build houses may depend on factors  such as location, climate, resource availability, financial resources, and/or the owner’s needs. Some houses are single-storied, while others have two or more stories. Just as individuals vary, so do the houses in which each person lives.

In an attempt to reduce the anxiety of his disciples, Jesus tells them about a house with plenty of room which he is going to prepare for them and others. Prior to this passage, Jesus had told his disciples that he would not be with them much longer. After having followed Jesus around for almost three years, the disciples want to follow him wherever he is going next. They are afraid of being left on their own. So Jesus assured them that he is going to prepare their place where the Father dwells. He also tells them that there is plenty of room for them and he will return to take them to the place.

During Advent, part of our focus was on this promise of Jesus’s return. In today’s passage we hear of this promised return. The promise speaks of a big house where all are welcomed. Through other passages in Scripture, we gain an understanding that there will be abundance at this place. Sadness, pain, and suffering will be replaced with joy and uninhibited life. The place of Jesus’s promise is clearly a place we all would desire to experience. This place is also a home to which we should want to invite others.

Audio Adrenaline captured the promise of Jesus and created images to which we can relate today in their song, Big House. I invite you to consider the promise, the invitation, and the images which form in your mind as you listen to this song today.

Great Expectation

Read Colossians 3:2-4

Advent is a season of expectations in the Church. We recall the expectation the people of Israel had for the arrival of the Messiah. We who are on this side of the incarnation, live with the expectation of Jesus’s return. Expecting generates an energy within our lives. If we are expecting the birth of a new child, there is an excitement which energizes us and prompts us to prepare. Children during this time of year are expecting a visit from Santa and the acquiring of presents. Their expectations energize them, adults may call them hyper at this time. Expecting, or anticipating, infuses our lives with great energy.

The author of the letter to the church in Collosae writes about our Advent expectations. We read about the appearance of Christ. A promise is made that when Christ appears we will be joined with him in glory. The reminder that our life is now in Christ, we have died to our self-centered life, is placed before us. In order to prepare for this expected event, we set our minds on what it will mean to be in the full spiritual presence of God and not on the priorities of the world in which we now live.

This Advent, think of the experience you will have when Christ appears. Consider what it means to have Christ as your life. Sense the energy this expectation fills you with even now. Focus on the priorities and ways of God.

An Offering for a King

Read Mark 12:33

As we begin the season of Advent, we focus upon preparing to receive our Christ and King. Scripture tells us that what God considers the greatest offering is our very selves. When we think about what we might offer to our coming Christ, the offering which our Lord deserves is our love and the life choices which we make. Consider what Christmas offering you may choose to make this season as you listen to this song by Casting Crowns.

Patience

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[a] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

2 Peter 3:11-18 (NIV)

Having patience is not always a strong suit for me. When I have determined to make a purchase, I want the item to be readily available. Afterall, I have done my research and completed my mental gymnastics regarding should I buy or should I pass. Once I decide to buy, I want to do it right then. I also want to take it home immediately. This same mental battle and impatience occurs when I am determining whether to do something or not. Once my course of action is determined, I expect to place everything into motion now and not later. Lucky for me, I have usually had wise individuals in my life who temper my impatience. Perhaps you have a similar impatience.

In the letter of Peter in which we find our passage today, we hear Peter caution the people to have patience. He speaks of the destruction of the old heaven and earth making way for the new heaven and earth. The anticipation of this change appears to make the people extremely eager for its arrival. But the Lord is patient to ensure all are given an opportunity to accept salvation. Since the Lord is patient, the people must also be patient. Peter warns them to not be carried away by the error of those who are not following God’s wisdom. Instead, during this period of waiting they should use it as an opportunity to grow.

Waiting has always been an element of what it means to be God’s people. Throughout the story of God’s people in the Bible, we see many situations in which God’s people have to wait. We also see many times when an individual or group gets impatient and tries to force something to occur or at the very least starts complaining a lot. Examples include Sarai’s wanting a child, the Israelites in the wilderness, David wanting Bathsheba, Judas wishing Jesus would overthrow the Roman oppressors, and others. Human attempts to force God’s hand or taking matters into their own hands never seem to turn out successful. Hence, the warning of Peter to be patient and not lawless.

The season of Advent in the church calendar is all about anticipation and patience. We anticipate the completion of the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. The same anticipation which the hearers of Peter’s letter had. After over 1900 years of waiting, we struggle with remaining patient and some distort what Paul, Peter and other messengers of God have said. Yet we know God keeps God’s promises but the timing of their fulfillment belongs to God. Let us heed Peter’s warning and follow his suggestion. May we use this time to not become impatient and strike out on our own but instead grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.