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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent: The Prophets bring Hope

This Christmas, I've gotten serious about incorporating Advent into our Christmas celebration. I want to instill in my children that Christmas is not simply Jesus' birthday. Instead, I want them to understand that this birth is a great mystery because on that day God became human. This birth was foretold by the prophets of old to Isreal, announced by the Angels to common shepherds, and sought out by the Magi of the East. The birth was for a purpose, not only to end for the salvation of all people, but to train us in the way we should live and to declare that the Kingdom of God is both here and to come.

This is a big job, no doubt. I'm incorporating some materials from our pastor with some materials from an awesome Children's curriculum called Godly Play to help my kids grasp the fullness of what Christmas is. I thought I would share the theme, scriptures, and song we are focusing on each week.

This week (Nov 30-Dec 6) we are remembering The Prophets from the Old Testament who declared to Israel that a King was coming. Today we read passages from Jeremiah and Isaiah.

Jeremiah 33:14-16
"'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.'"

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

This brought great hope to the struggling people of Isreal. We sing the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel in celebration of this great news.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

As we prepare our hearts for the mystery of Jesus' birth, we are glad to think back to the fulfilled promise given to the Israelites. This should reignite hope in us that the promise that Jesus will come again to fully establish the Kingdom of God will be fulfilled.

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