Hello, Ian here from sunny Sydney. It’s summertime here and we’ve had a lovely few weeks of great sunny weather. It’s incredible how quickly the year has passed as we’re now only 2.5 weeks away from Christmas.
For many of us 2022 has been a tough year, perhaps another year in a long season of tough years. As a result, many of us may be simply pushing through to Christmas with gritted teeth, avoiding the shops by making their purchases online, and hanging out for the beginning of a new year wishing for a brighter new start in 2023. It may be a real struggle to experience any real joy at present.
If this is you, may I encourage you to take some time out. Close the door behind you or go out for a walk, sit on a rock looking at something beautiful, and simply reflect on how you’re feeling. Invite God to make His presence known. He’s there with you, just waiting for you to say hi and ask Him to be present with you.
Don’t deny your weariness, it’s okay …. and invite God to be near and ask Him for the strength to walk forward. One step at a time. Remember, His words in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” Ask for His strength, not your own.
Advent and Longing
Advent started two Sundays ago. Like Lent at Easter, it’s a season of waiting and hoping. Advent simply means ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’ and alludes to both comings of Jesus, the one of 2000+ years ago when he became like us, born in a manger, and the second where we await his promised second coming.
It's a season of longing. Longing for Jesus.
For those us feeling exhausted and beaten down by life, we long for rest, for an end to the struggle. Most of us would be longing for something. We SUMites especially long for our spouses to find Jesus, don’t we? We long for many things, healing, peace in our homes, a wayward child settling down and more.
Others of us, like myself are in seasons of transition, seeking a new beginning. I’m not far off sixty and having spent the last few years caring for my parents who have both passed in the last 12 months, I am now wondering what’s next. I long for God to give me a nudge or even a BIG shove that helps me see what He’d like us to do together in this next season of my life. It’s a season of excitement wondering what might be ahead and a little frightening for the same reason.
And we long for Jesus. For the joy of the true message of Christmas that a saviour has come, and that Jesus would come again in His victory march upon the earth.
What do we do with our Longing?
A few ideas:
1. Share it with Jesus while sitting on that rock I mentioned earlier. Invite Him into it. He knows we have such a longing.
2. Share it with another. A ‘safe’ other. Someone who will listen and not just hump to ‘solve’ your longing. And who will pray with and for you.
3. Hope. Besides being a season of waiting and longing, Advent is a season of hope. I love what Kate Bowler says about hope:
“But hope isn’t wishful thinking. It’s an anchor in the future.”
Our hope has a name. Jesus. Declare this hope over yourself and your future.
4. Stay close to Jesus. Remember all the ways Jesus has been faithful to you in the past.
An old Christmas Carol
I love Carols. It reminds me of my teen years when my youth group would walk the local streets near our church on Christmas Eve and stop at houses to sing a carol or two.
In the past week, I’ve heard/read of this one written by Charles Wesley that I wasn’t familiar with. It’s a wonderful carol/hymn that expresses our longing. I thought we could ‘pray’ the lyrics as a prayer.
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Come, Thou long expected JesusBorn to set Thy people free; From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel's strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art; Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,Born a child and yet a King, Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
By Thine all sufficient merit,Raise us to Thy glorious throne
In Jesus’ Loving Name. Amen
Wishing all the SUMites a very blessed, joyous , peaceful and hope-filled Christmas.
Grace and peace.