Pastor Ed Allen spoke to us on Sunday, December 3rd, the first Sunday of Advent.
So... What's the Point of Advent?
In this first week of advent, it is important for all of us to remember the critical point of the season.
In the hustle and bustle of the season, we might think that the point is to slow down -- to spend some time with our loved ones -- and to reflect on how we might be better people.
Indeed, the season does seem to force us to focus on these things -- We think of friends and family -- far-away parents -- and our grown-up children -- remembering our happy times as children growing up, or our pride as parents as we watched our children grow.
But is our focus on family really the point of the Christmas season?
The answer is not as easy as you might think.
As you might suspect, if we are talking about our flesh and blood family relations, the answer is clearly no. Christmas is not meant to be a celebration of our earthly family. Indeed, if we think more deeply, focusing on our earthly families cannot help but lead us in the wrong direction.
So, if our earthly families are not the point of Christma and the entire Advent season, what is the point?
We can take comfort in the fact that our confusion on this question is nothing when we compare it to the confusion of Joseph and Mary who, through their faith, agreed to marry and serve as Jesus's earthly parents.
Can any of us imagine being in their place? What monuments to faith Joseph and Mary were! Can we possibly imagine how challenging that the situation of Jesus's birth must have been for them given the social norms of their day?
We are fortunate for their faith, as even Joseph and Mary could not have fully understood the ultimate significance of Jesus's coming.
Indeed, the real point does not become clear until we come to the end of the story in Jesus's death and resurrection.
The point of Advent and Christmas is the gift that Jesus gave to all of us in his willingness to bear the unbearable; his willingness to love us even when we did not love him; his willingness to pay the price of our transgressions, and shoulder burdens which are rightfully ours to bear.
That's right, the point of Christmas is Jesus
And the gift he gave us which we can never repay.