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Advent: Waiting for Everything to Be as It Should

Including the church.

That means standing up for the people in our ministries, fighting for the person who feels marginalized, speaking out when we mistreat one another, and, most of all, digging deep into our own patterns of unrighteousness.

Thankfully, we don’t do this in our own strength or wisdom. This choice to be part of the solution means choosing to lean into God and his grace, to depend on him in ways that don’t come naturally, and to cry out with new understanding, “O Come O Come Emmanuel!”

From Tension to Joy

The best part of the Christmas season is that it doesn’t end with Advent. In Advent, we spend time reflecting on the way things are, and we mourn just how far we are from the people, the church, and the world God envisions. As we approach Christmas Day, though, these lines of O Holy Night become our cry: “A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices / For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!”

As we move from the waiting of Advent to the realization of Christmas, there is much reason to celebrate. God, too, sees how far things are from the way they should be, and he actively chose to be the solution, sending Jesus into the world, not just to fix things, but to be with us, to give us vision and hope, and to empower us to live out kingdom values in the power of the Spirit.

It’s precisely because we’re aware of the gap that we can celebrate Christmas so heartily. Because we have felt the tension, we can better understand just how great a gift it is that God is with us. As we realize the full value of this gift, we can’t help ourselves from crying out, “Joy to the World!”

Church leader, as we move toward Christmas, do reflect on the ways we fall short. Do grieve the ways we get it all so terribly wrong. But also, celebrate the beauty, the joy, and the miracle of a God who comes to earth to live with us in the mess. Stand in awe as you reflect on the ways God uses the messy, imperfect, flawed church to impact the world in beautiful ways. Praise God for the opportunity we have as church leaders to help others grasp the truth of the gospel.

Finally, rest in God’s presence, letting him fill your soul and sustain you for another season of ministry. Let your soul feel its worth, as O Holy Night says, and be reminded again that God’s power works best in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). God is working, and it’s an honor to be part of that work.

Amy Jackson is managing editor of Gifted for Leadership.

December21, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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