“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all…”
That’s the Good News. So much Truth in a short sentence. That is the Gospel that we come to proclaim on Christmas Eve. There in the manger lies the grace of God incarnate.
We know that throughout history God made a series of covenants with his people, that they might be in relationship with one another. As beneficial as the covenants were, they were just that-covenants. Promises for the future.
Promises require waiting. As a boy, we would take family vacations with extended family to Florida or Myrtle Beach. Driving from Ohio to those vacation spots felt like they took forever. For a young boy, it felt like a lot of waiting. But finally, the moment came. All the promise and excitement that a vacation held finally arrived. The time had come!
So it was with the Covenants of God. There was a lot of waiting involved, but finally, it all comes to a head. After centuries of waiting for the covenants to be fulfilled, the grace of God appears as a baby. This was the moment they’d been waiting for, whether they fully realized it or not. As the familiar hymn says, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight”.
Is that so? All of the hopes and the fears of the universe were answered…back then? If we’re honest, it doesn’t seem completely true, does it? I don’t have to tell you there is still a lot of brokenness. There are still broken families, ruined relationships, selfishness and hate. There are still unjust judges, unrighteous rulers and marginalized voices that go unheard.
It sure doesn’t seem as though the hopes and fears of the universe were answered 2000 years ago. So we still wait. We wait for what was inaugurated 2000 years ago to be brought to completion. As our text says, “we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus the Messiah.”
But we don’t wait as though we are uncertain. We don’t wait as though we are unsure whether the waiting will ever end, whether things will ever be made right.
As a boy on those family vacation trips, there were times the waiting seemed to take so long. But I never doubted we would get to where we were going. I knew the character of my parents and extended family. I knew that no matter what the waiting was like, we would arrive at the place we were traveling to.
We are still waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises. But we wait with confidence. We wait with confidence because the Christ child born on Christmas Eve shows us that God is “good for it”. The faithfulness of God-that God would even become a baby if that’s what it takes to save us-shows us that God will be faithful to fulfill all that was begun.
So as we celebrate the first Advent, we await the second, knowing that God is “good for it”. Because of who God is, we await the second Advent with confidence.
Not only that. Because of the baby born on Christmas Eve and the man he will grow up to be, we live in a way we wouldn’t otherwise live. As our text says, we “renounce impiety and worldly passions…live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly…” We are a people who are “zealous for good deeds”.
Not only do we wait in confidence, but we wait in holiness. We wait with lives that have been changed because of the Christ-child and his incarnation on earth. As we wait, we reflect the Image of God back into the world, that others might come to know the One we celebrate at Christmas.
As we noted earlier, it is easy to see all the ways the world is still broken. It is easy to acknowledge that things have not yet been made right. It is not enough simply to point out the brokenness, though. We must live differently. We must live in a way that rejects sin and brokenness as the last word. As the Body of Christ we live in ways that reflect his life. As we wait for the second Advent, we live lives that reflect the first. Christ living in us incarnates the hope, peace and love the broken world needs so much.