Written by The Rev. Dcn. Nathan Sharp - St. Patrick's Anglican - Lexington, KY
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said…
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then he said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
…And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:5-7, 10)
As a teacher, I spend most of my day with middle school and high school students. And like them, I sometimes face the pressure to feel, do, or experience something new. This has often led me to try and come up with something unexpected to grab my students’ attention or something novel to make a routine lesson feel exciting or worth learning.
Over time, however, I’ve realized that my students’ perspective of who I am and how I act toward them has a much greater impact on whether or not they’ll listen than anything I can come up with to try and convince them that the subject matter is important.
When the author of Hebrews reminds us that Christ’s sacrifice is once for all, you’d think the magnitude of a statement like this and the response it might elicit would stick. Easily distracted and faced with the daily temptations of life, however, our hearts are prone to wander.
I think somewhere in these observations is the lesson God has been trying to teach me this Advent season. The lesson that despite the many ways we as humans try to wander or try to somehow make the Gospel more relevant, God’s promise and His gift still stand - unchanged and eternal. In this I am reminded that no matter how many times I experience Advent or the Christmas narrative, the story’s familiarity can never become a substitute for its significance. And God’s action of love toward humanity can never be replaced by our actions toward Him.
Much like my students, I am learning that my teacher Jesus has demonstrated not only Who He is, but the extent to which He was and is willing to go to redeem us. I find it much easier to listen and obey when I rest in this truth than when I let the pressures of a weary world suggest that the climax of the Gospel needs dressed up or revitalized in order to be embraced.
So, this Advent I am resting in something unchangeable. I am resting in the Prophet’s reminder that Christ’s coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2). I am resting in Mary’s declaration that God’s hand has been at work in redemption from generation to generation (Luke 1:46–55). And with great anticipation, I echo the Psalmist’s prayer for restoration and the continual presence of God (Psalm 80:3, 7).
This Advent, I am thankful that even in the lectionary, beforehand determined, God is at work teaching me. As we journey toward Christmas together, may we wait on the coming of our Lord, in active remembrance and anticipation. For the One who calls us near has kept His word and this truth is once for all.