Take heart!

“What is God like?” children sometimes ask. A justified question. Finding an answer is easier than it seems at first. Let’s ask Jesus Christ. He knows what God is like. This will be the topic in our divine services on the second Sunday of Advent.

The month of December is defined by Advent and the festive season, and the services will bear witness to this. The Sunday sermons will revolve around the theme “The coming Lord” and take the believers to the very core of the Christian faith.

Recognising God in Christ

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life,” it says in 1 John 5: 20. “Understanding” and “knowing” are two thought-provoking terms. Anyone who wants to understand these terms needs good clues: Jesus Christ came to open man’s eyes to what God is like. So those who want to know what God is like, need only think of Jesus Christ. It is in Him that we can recognise the nature of God. And Jesus Christ made very clear that God is love.

Christ comes

The sermon on the third Sunday of Advent is based on a statement of John the Baptist that seems quite challenging. “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.” It seems illogical at first, even somewhat unrealistic, and yet it is quite simple. John regarded himself as the way-preparer for someone who had always been—namely Jesus, the eternal Word, the Logos, the Son of God!

The season of Advent is a good time to ask about the meaning of Christian life. As followers of Christ, Christians are called on to prepare the way for the coming Lord. The primary goal is to prepare for Christ’s return by growing in our trust in God, our love, and our willingness to serve one another. For Christians a divine service is not only an opportunity to find joy, peace, and comfort, it is also always part of a spiritual ripening process: the development of the bridal congregation.

Christ is near

The sermon on the fourth Sunday will highlight joy. In Philippians 4: 4 Paul emphasises this irrepressible joy. At the time, the church was struggling with various conflicts. There were reprisals from both society and the state, and there were issues caused by fellow Christians who taught false doctrines. This prompted the Apostle to strengthen the church by urging them to rejoice.

This is still an important message today. Christian joy should not depend on certain moods and living conditions. May the greatest joy of the waiting church be the joy of Advent! Advent means: Christ is coming soon and He is near, in the church and in everyday life.

The light of Christ

On Christmas Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus. For some it is winter, for others summer. Some live in affluence, while others need support. Some are surrounded by a large family, while others have no one. Only the joy of Christmas is the same for all of us, since it is based on our shared faith: God is love. He sent His Son to this earth in order to deliver us. He is the true Light, which has been illuminating our lives since.

Jesus Christ showed that God loves all human beings without exception, even those whom society has ignored, despised, or even rejected. He took care of the poor, the widows, women and children, foreigners, and even those who did wrong.

Christians draw only one conclusion from this. They too, want to be light for others. “Christians, let us be a light in this world!”

Faith in trials

As the Christmas candles burn down, what remains is the joy over God’s nearness beyond the holidays. He will be close even in times of affliction. The Chief Apostle says: “This year, the lives of many have been changed fundamentally by events that no one could have predicted. But God has not changed. His love for us is still the same. His plan of redemption remains unchanged. The return of the Lord has neither been cancelled nor postponed.”

With this outlook and with a strong trust in God we enter the New Year with courage.

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Peter Johanning
Divine service