The days are surely coming, says the Lord,
when I will fulfill the promise I made
to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David,
and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.
(Jeremiah 33:14-16- Reading for the First Sunday in Advent)
As we begin this Advent season, I begin with the above words from the First Reading for the First Sunday in Advent. Advent is from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming.” It is a season of expectancy, anticipation, and hope. The color is blue which, in the church, signifies hope. The event for which we expect, anticipate, and hope is, of course, the annual remembrance of the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem’s manger.
Our Hebrew scripture readings during Advent will all lead us in this journey of expectancy. On Advent 1 we hear those words above. It is a promise to the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah that new growth is coming- “a righteous Branch will spring up.” And it is also a promise that this righteous Branch will “execute justice and righteousness in the land.”
As I have mentioned before, in Hebrew the concepts of “justice” and “righteousness” are always associated with “mercy.” Advent is a focal time in the church year when we remember those who are less fortunate than we; a time when we look for opportunities to “execute justice and righteousness.”
As I write this message, the outer office is becoming a kaleidoscope of colors as gifts for foster children are gathering there for our annual Christmas Ingathering for Lutheran Children and Family Service. Again, we work to “execute justice and righteousness.”
Adventus is a time of “coming” and a time of preparation to welcome the Christ Child anew each year. Along with all of the haste and bustle of this season, please take time for spiritual preparation in anticipation of Christmas. Join us for the service of Lessons and Carols on December 13 at 4:00. Stop and meditate at our international Nativity display, beginning December 13. And of course, join us on Christmas Eve at 5:00, 7:00, or 11:00.
But do take time for Advent. The words and message of this season of expectancy and hope are so powerful and so important that we should not rush this part of the journey.
Pastor Skip McDowell