You never know what a day will hold. Certainly I didn’t this morning when I was digging out from our first good Northwoods storm, and THUMP!
Plans change, you know. And we have yet to see how that big red pine sitting on our roof will change the weekend. It’s a great story, in progress, and I’ll have to tell you how it works out.
But, for the moment, we want to think—a little more briefly than usual—about where we’re headed this Sunday at Woodland. It’s the first Sunday of Advent. My favorite time of year! This year we’ll be considering the astounding idea of GOD WITH US. We’re building toward Matthew 1.22-23 which we’ll read on Christmas Eve. In those verses we read: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
But why is GOD WITH US such a big deal?
God with God (John 1.1-5; 17.20-24). We’ll start with the backstory. Take a look at these two, short sets of verses. Notice how God’s plan of redemption isn’t so much about us as it is about the Son revealing the Father’s glory. Because of Jesus, we get to share in the glory and the fellowship of the Godhead.
Us Without God (Genesis 3.8-24). That background shows us what we lost through our first parents in the garden. Genesis 3.8-24 has to be the saddest passage in all of Scripture. It begins with recognition of the crime of disobeying God. And, it continues with the consequences. Adam and Eve lost God’s presence … experienced life with shame … lost marital bliss … and fell into disharmony with nature.
Even yet, God provided for them. There’s the hint of hope, even in God’s listing of the consequences of sin: Humankind won’t be overcome by nature (:15) … won’t fail to reproduce (:16) … won’t fail to eat (:19). And then, God clothed them, and, finally sent them from the garden, so they wouldn’t eat from the Tree of Life and live forever in deformity, in their sins.
Genesis 3 is a passage describing God’s severe mercy. And, it’s where we have to stop in this first week of Advent. It reminds us that GOD WITH US won’t seem a big deal until we ponder the majesty of GOD WITH GOD and the horror of US WITHOUT GOD.
And the the beauty of Christmas isn’t beautiful until we know we’re saved from life without God. That’s the thought that needs to carry us deeper into this, the most beautiful of all seasons.
Here’s a few questions for discussion:
- Why do you think it’s significant to start our Advent series on GOD WITH US in John 1.1-5 and 17.20-24? That’s where we see the Persons of the Godhead living before time in perfect satisfaction with one another. God with God.
- Genesis 3.8-24 is a really sad story. But, why is it important to include this story of loss and failure in our build up to Matthew 1.22-23?
- Have you ever thought of Genesis 3.8-24 as a story of God’s provision? How is this passage one of hope, and not despair?
Now, have a blessed Thanksgiving. See you this Sunday, at Woodland!