Happy New Year! The first Sunday of Advent, which we celebrated this past Sunday, marks the beginning of the liturgical year. Advent is a time of preparation, as we ready our hearts to welcome Christ, born to us as Messiah and Savior. Advent can also be considered a time for a new beginning, or fresh start. We ask ourselves what we need to change in our lives to become more faithful followers of Christ. This type of self-reflection is necessary if we are to grow in our spiritual life, and Advent is the perfect time to begin anew!
There is a saying, “Begin with the end in mind.” Knowing our ultimate destination keeps us on the right track, whether it is a road trip or our spiritual journey. Even if we get lost along the way, or take a detour, the knowledge of where we want to end up helps to redirect our steps.
For a Christian the ultimate destination is heaven. We are faced with choices every day which lead us closer to heaven or further away from it, inch by inch, step by step. Our choices matter; they matter a great deal. They reveal our priorities and even our true identity. They shape our destiny.
This is a daunting prospect and perhaps a heavy responsibility. But, Christians have an advantage that no other religion can claim, and it is a cause for joy!
In our continual search for God, for transformation in our lives, in our quest to make decisions that consistently pave our way to heaven, we are not alone! We have a God who seeks us out!
So often in Scripture we see God seeking out his creatures. In Genesis, God walked in the Garden in the cool of the day to visit Adam and Eve. When they hid from him due to their sin, “the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” Now, Adam and Eve had made a colossal error in judgment, choosing to believe the serpent rather than trusting in God, and putting their own will ahead of the will of God.
"But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate." (Gen 3:4-6)
The consequences of their fall continue to reverberate throughout the centuries to this very day. So, understandably, Adam and Eve were hiding in shame from God. However, they could not conceal their sin from God. He knew their sin. In fact, he knew their sin before they committed it.
And still, he sought them out.
Still, he loved them, and right there in the Garden, he promised us a Savior, who would be the offspring of “the Woman” and who would crush the head of the serpent. He did not give up on Adam and Eve. He does not give up on us.
Over and over we see evidence of our loving God reaching out to humankind, loving us, offering us the means of salvation:
“For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out…I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick;” (Ezekiel 34:11,16)
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
The parable of the Good Shepherd shows us that each of us is loved and sought. “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?” (Matt 18:12)
Of course, the ultimate evidence of God’s love for us is that he sent his Son into the world to be our Savior. Which is what we remember during Advent. That the all-powerful God came to us as a helpless infant, subject to the discomforts, limitations, and sufferings of the human condition, because he would rather die for us than risk living for eternity without us.
This is our cause for joy. This is our humbling, inconceivable cause for joy.
Our God seeks us out. He does not forget us or overlook us. He searches for us!
May we allow the Seeker to find us this Advent – more joyful, more united to Him, and ever closer to our final destination. - Mrs. Lisa Sweet, Academic Dean