O Come All Ye Faithful (Advent #1)

Right before the Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping craze, I saw stores starting to sell Advent Calendars (these are charts with numbered flaps, revealing a special message, picture, or prize as you count down to Christmas). And every year, without fail, I debate whether I should buy the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar. But this year, before I could even decide, it had already sold out online and in stores. Wow!

On this first week of Advent, we wanted to ask… How do you prepare yourself for Christmas? For many, it means getting your shopping done. Others might go all out with their lawn decorations. But the word “advent” is defined as the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. What are we counting down to?

To Christians, Advent is the coming of Christ. We’re preparing the way and getting ready to adore our Savior whose birth we celebrate on December 25. That’s the whole “reason for the season”! I hope you’re anticipating this celebratory moment as this special day approaches. In Luke 2:15-16, the shepherds were anxious for Jesus’ birth! They couldn’t wait to come and see, to greet Him, to honor and adore Him.

So for Week 1 of Advent, feel free to begin enjoying the festivities and jolly celebrations (after all, tonight is the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting) but don’t let that eclipse what this season is to our faith. Let’s be joyful and expectant this Advent Season:

Make a way for Jesus! O come, let us adore Christ the Lord!

We hope these short weekly excerpts will help you see these Christmas “carols” in a new light as we count down to Christmas together!

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.Psalm 95:6-7

Reflection Song: You Are Greater

Temple Of Legos

We attended the first night of the Re:New Conference by the Luis Palau Association, here in Wayne, NJ. There were some great leaders leading the night such as Luis Palau, Francis Chan, and worship led by Kristian Stanfill and the Passion band. It was a great night of worship and prayer, as well as being fed by the Word and being inspired & informed of the things going on in our NJ/NY/CT region.

But during Francis Chan’s talk, the part about Jesus’ prayer from John 17 stood out in particular:

“…I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

That “oneness”… that “unity in the Trinity”, if you will, is what was the center of the night. Uniting all peoples of all races and of all denominations and backgrounds to be one. Francis Chan illustrated this by taking out a single Lego piece (and if you aren’t familiar with Legos, maybe Mega Bloks are more for you?) – saying that we, you & I, are like a Lego piece. On our own we are individual and separate but, like Legos, we are meant to be built together as the temple – attached to each other so that those attached will see the glory of the Lord.

Francis Chan
(Francis Chan holding up Legos)

And, mind you, that’s not the physical temple like what’s mentioned here in 2 Chronicles 7 because now we are the temple. And I love what he said next because it really drove it home: In 1 Corinthians 3:16 it says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

The “you” in that verse is actually plural like “y’all” but the “temple” is singular. We are to be one in the Spirit. What a massive idea! We may each be a Lego piece but each of us are part of the same temple – you may be a bottom piece, a middle piece, or a piece that goes on top, but we’re all singular… one.

So we need to function like the way Christ wanted us to function. By ourselves, Legos aren’t all that great… it’s when they come together that they build something more and something better. Right now you may feel alone and may be going through something or maybe it’s something as imminent as being anxious about Lent. But we need to be patient and continue to build this body, this community, this temple. We’ve been saying here that 2015 will be a big year – and we truly believe it. It’ll take time, but we pray that the church would be undivided and build up for something greater in the Kingdom of God!

Stay attached and stay united. Jesus is coming soon!

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way