This last weekend my wife’s side of the family had their Christmas gathering to open presents and eat together. Her side of the family has four kids who are all married and either have children or have children on the way. Between the four children there are six grandkids between the ages of 10 to five weeks old and one more on the way in a few weeks.
It was a crazy scene. There were mounds of wrapping paper and gift bags making way for new toys and treats around every corner. The joy on the faces of the kiddos was so much fun to watch as many of them got what they had been asking for over many previous months.
This is the joy that so many will link to the Advent season. The feeling of finally seeing what you have been wanting for so long is a feeling that cannot be measured or really duplicated.
Yet amongst the craziness of screaming kids and their parents trying to keep things in order, there was a quiet yet screaming joy coming from the patriarch and matriarch of this family. The grandparents were able to sit back and see the fruits of their labors over so many years grow and multiply. For all of their prayers and investment over so many years – this is their great gift.
And I can’t imagine what it feels like to have a scattered family like my own back together for my own parents as my own sister with her husband and children are back on American soil after serving the Scottish people for the last three years. These are feelings that only those who have lived longer years than I can testify.
I can’t imagine what kind of joy that is – to see a second generation grow out of the seeds they planted in the fertile soil of God. This is what they waited for and long for all of these years.
This week we focus on the joy brought through the realized and unfailing promises of God. He is faithful and will never leave us. What he promised so many years ago he was now bringing forth.
There is a king coming with a kingdom. Let us celebrate!
John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’”
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’
“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!
Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory,
the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.”
And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
The lame will leap like a deer,
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.
The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish
where desert jackals once lived.
And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
fools will never walk there.
Lions will not lurk along its course,
nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He made heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them.
He keeps every promise forever.
He gives justice to the oppressed
and food to the hungry.
The Lord frees the prisoners.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down.
The Lord loves the godly.
The Lord protects the foreigners among us.
He cares for the orphans and widows,
but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.
The Lord will reign forever.
He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations.
Praise the Lord!
Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!
For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
God, we want so many things without having to wait
Teach us this week the Joy of a received promise
Allow us to receive the true and great gifts you give us
Without wanting things that pass away.
Help us to invest in you great story of redemption
And, trust in your promises.
Because – you are faithful.