Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent Readings

In my quest to find Christmas afresh this year, I ordered a book of Advent meditations called Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas. It's a collection of 22 essays and sermons by theologians such as John Piper, Tim Keller, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, and R.C. Sproul. It also includes a sermon excerpt of Skip Ryan's, who is the chaplain of Asian Access and a Dallas friend's pastor at Park Cities Pres! The book draws its title from Charles Wesley's hymn by the same name. Check out the lyrics of this lesser known hymn--they're incredible!

These readings have been a beautiful complement to the daily Advent Scriptures. I thought I would share a little snippet with you in order to endorse the book. Keller writes:

'In the first chapter of Luke, Elizabeth says, "Blessed is she who has believed what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Elizabeth is saying to Mary--and to us--"if you really believe what the angel told you about this baby, if you take it in, you'll be blessed.'

"But our English word 'blessed' is so limp and lightweight. In English we use blessed to mean something like 'inspired.' But in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, the word for blessed meant something much deeper than that. To be blessed brings you back to full shalom, full human functioning; if makes you everything God meant for you to be. To be blessed is to be strengthened and repaired in every one of your human capacities, to be utterly transformed.

"What Elizabeth is saying to Mary, and what Luke is saying to us is, 'Do you believe that this beautiful idea of the Incarnation will really happen? If you believe it, and if you will take it into the center of your life, you're blessed, transformed, and utterly changed.'"

I love that! To internalize the Incarnation is to be transformed into all that God intended us to be (i.e. to be regenerated by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit).

So even as this week feels a little frantic, I'm determined not to "bustle about but only in vain" (Psalm 39:6), but in all things to "believe that what the Lord has said will be accomplished" (Luke 1:45).

Grace and peace,

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