The Old Testament and Advent

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SUNDAY 03 DECEMBER 2017

The Old Testament is full of people - real people; whose lives are messy, their families dysfunctional and their obedience not always full or immediate, yet God used them.  Our study of their lives is to bring perspective, hope and instruction to ours - to recognise that at times we are tempted to sanitise or selectively interact with their stories and in that way make them heroes.  The reality is that their stories are powerful because they are human like us and face the same temptations and frailty that we do - yet God used them.

We are in the season of Advent - Advent is the four-Sunday period before Christmas Day.  It marks the start of a new Christian Year and is traditionally used by the Western Church worldwide to reflect on the coming of Christ.  Advent - ‘to reach for’, ‘to long for’, ‘to come’ has to do with waiting and hopeful expectation. 

Waiting through Advent is far from passive.  Our waiting is a discipline.  An active preparation of our hearts and desires to celebrate the coming of God among people on earth.  Through Advent we take the opportunity to slow ourselves down, to take time to remember the incredible story of God coming to earth as a human, and reflect on our own response to that event.

Often at this time of the year we read the accounts of God, taking on flesh and arriving in our neighbourhood in the form of a baby - Jesus.  And I’d love for you to turn with me to Matthew  1:1-17 - the Genealogy, History, Story of the people who came before Jesus. 

We don’t see much information in this passage but the key thing to note here is this:  All of these people, all of these stories, all of these expressions of faith are crucial pieces in the arrival of Jesus - some of these people we have talked about over the last 6 months - some we haven’t, but the reality is that if we dug into any of these names we would find stories of faith, of hope and people we could learn from as we seek to become more like Jesus.  All of their stories find their fulfilment and purpose in Jesus. 

The unifying thread is that all of them lived lives of faith - some haphazardly, some consistently, some we recognise the faithfulness of God, some we recognise the brave steps of obedience - there is very little else that clumps them together - the one thing that does is faith...

This morning we unpack a familiar passage that links in here:  Hebrews 11 - “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony”