Four Little Words1
This fall we engaged the call to create Christian community in our series One Another. Our bulletin cover and PowerPoint background was a serene forest of trees, deep in some secluded forest.
The inspiration for that image came from aspen trees, which grow in clusters and share a common root system with identical DNA. It is my deep hope and prayer that we would be - and even more so become - like one of those groves of aspens, relying upon and growing together into the fullness of God’s will for our lives. Only as we do so will live out our mission of “Inviting all people to grow into a Christ-centered life in God’s family.”
On Sunday we begin an Advent series we’re calling Four Little Words. We hear them every year as we light the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. But these aren’t just nice words for when the days grow shorter and presents magically appear under our Christmas trees. No, as we’ll see in Luke’s gospel, these four little words embody the promise of Christmas and the prospect of living in the Kingdom of God.
These four little words can make a huge difference in our life - all year ‘round!
Each Sunday between now and Christmas we will see how these four little words drive us forward in our mission:
- Because we have hope in God we can do the challenging work of planting the gospel in our networks and neighborhoods.
- Because God has brought peace through Jesus, we can gather each Sunday to deepen our faith through worship.
- Because He promises joy in His Spirit, we can live lives that flourish.
- And because God is love, we can nurture one another along our spiritual journey.
As we begin the Advent season, I’m reminded of one of my favorite “Christmas quotes” from author Philip Yancey. In his book exploring the Hebrew Scriptures called The Bible Jesus Read, he writes,
From God’s viewpoint - and Satan’s - Christmas signals far more than the birth of a baby; it was an invasion, the decisive advance in the great struggle for the cosmos…
As Isaiah makes clear, the God who visits Earth comes not in a raging whirlwind, nor in a devouring fire. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel, ‘God with us.’” He arrives instead in the tiniest, least threatening form imaginable: as an ovum, and then fetus, growing cell by cell inside a peasant virgin. That egg divides and redivides until a fetus takes shape, and finally a single baby bursts forth from Mary’s loins to join the puny human beings on their speck of a planet.
May that decisive advance in the great struggle for the cosmos bring hope, peace, joy, and love. Not just to us, but the world.