When light illuminates the darkness
Dark days are often frightening. How good if one has a light at hand. When there is light, one immediately reacts with greater calm and peace. On the way of faith, Jesus is this light.
The new liturgical year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. This is the time leading up to Christmas, when we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. In the month of December, divine services of the New Apostolic Church will explore the subject “God draws near to us”—and look at different angles.
First Sunday of Advent – Jesus brings light into the darkness
The series begins with the idea that Jesus Christ makes a light shine into the darkness. God visits mankind who lives in remoteness from Him. In this light, we ourselves can become a light for others. Christ’s appearance on earth is not just any light, but a great light: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9: 2). The prologue of the gospel of John even calls Him the light of men. He guides those who comprehend the light to a better understanding of themselves and their neighbour.
As children of light, we must stop all hypocrisy and pretence. Instead of looking at the faults and failings of others, let us see them as a light for the lost, the displaced, the oppressed, and the sad. Many people are desperate—they want to be encouraged to hope and that it is possible to live according to the gospel at any time. They want to let themselves be strengthened through faith in Jesus Christ. They may live in a dark world, but with Jesus Christ by their side there is light.
Second Sunday of Advent – Jesus declares new things
The second Sunday of Advent is also based on a Bible text from Isaiah: “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42: 9). The glad tidings illuminate the dark, and the approaching Saviour presents Himself to the sinners. These are the truly new things in which human beings hardly dared to believe any more: being accepted by God, despite being sinful. God wants the salvation of all of mankind, and He will make sure that all have the possibility to be saved!
Third Sunday of Advent – Jesus becomes man
On the third Sunday of Advent, the sermon is based on the prologue to the gospel of John: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14). What wonderful thoughts! God becomes man in Jesus Christ and publicly proves that He is grace, truth, and love. Everything man needs to know about God is incorporated in Jesus. We can only understand Jesus if we perceive Him as both man and God. For many people it is difficult to accept that Jesus is God. They believe Him to be someone special and perhaps understand His death as a devotion to an idea, but in so doing overlook the fact that God Himself has become part of the human race and shows solidarity with them: in the election, in deliverance from sin and debt, in His word. God loves all of humankind, without regard for person.
Fourth Sunday of Advent – Jesus brings God’s love
The first letter of John also speaks about Jesus Christ in these terms. The liberating message of God’s love, which has been manifested in the Saviour, defines the service on the fourth Sunday of Advent. We can live through Jesus Christ. Through Him we can experience grace and salvation, for: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4: 9–10). The incarnation of God in Jesus Christ and the latter’s sacrificial death eliminate all doubts about the love of God.
Christmas, the feast of signs
The Christmas Day service wants to direct our attention to the fact that the love of God expresses itself in signs and makes a difference: the manger, the cross, and the church of Christ. Man is exhorted to respond to the love of God and proclaim it by offering love to his neighbour.
Photo: Ingo Bartussek / fotolia