Of all the seasons of the church Advent has been my favorite. It teaches us about expectation and hope. Advent causes us to stop and wait, building the anticipation and excitement in us until what is promised finally arrives. When the four weeks of waiting have ended, we find our hearts are lifted up to God and our mouths burst open with the news, "Christ has come!"
Advent is my favorite time, but it isnít an easy time for a pastor. I say that because every year I have to answer the question of why we donít sing Christmas carols until Christmas Eve. While the rest of the world is broadcasting all of the favorite Christmas songs the day after Thanksgiving, the Christian church sings Advent hymns until the night before Christmas. These advent hymns are rich in the imagery of expectation. But like the children, who, if we allowed them, would open their Christmas presents today, we lack the patience to wait in expectation through the four weeks of Advent. But the waiting builds our understanding of and appreciation for what Christmas is all about.
Through the next four weeks we will examine a favorite Advent hymn that has come down to us from ancient times, O, Come, O Come Emmanuel. This hymn is based upon seven prayers that were said on the seven days before Christmas. Each prayer remembers an Old Testament description of the promised Messiah. Later on these prayers were set to music, forming the seven stanzas of our hymn. After each of the seven sermons which you will hear on Sundays and Wednesdays we will sing the stanza of the day.
Todayís stanza is number 2, Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, Who ordered all things mightily; To us the path of knowledge show, And teach us in her ways to go. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
These words take us back to the days of Adam and Eve who lived in a paradise that God had created in his infinite wisdom. They lost paradise because they sought Godís wisdom for themselves. As it is written in the third chapter of the Bible, "When Eve saw the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave it to her husband who was with her and he ate it" (Gen. 3:6).
This tragic account shows the results of seeking a wisdom purely of our own. We need the wisdom of God, but only as he reveals it for us. What were they thinking? Did Adam and Eve really believe the serpentís lies that they would be like God. We shouldnít be so hard on them. We have done no better ourselves.
We might ask the question today. Donít people know there is a God? What has happened to morality and justice? Donít they know their bodies and minds belong to God and that they should be kept pure. Donít they know that God is watching and will one day return to judge the world?
Man is an intelligent creature. We are blessed with minds that the crowning handiwork of God. But there is a tendency to equate wisdom and technology today. This is another problem of our times. Our technology helps us, but we often lack the wisdom to use it rightly.
For instance, nuclear energy brought us nuclear power and medicine. It also brought nuclear weapons and Chernobyl. Computer technology brought us Internet communications around the world, but some have used it for cyber crime and pornography.
Our minds are sharp, but often our wisdom is found lacking. The great sages of the past and present are stalled at the crossroads. They cannot answer even the simplest question, "Is there a God, and if so, who is he?"
We have the answer to that question this morning in the person of Jesus Christ.
This the message of Advent. There is a higher wisdom than conventional wisdom. There is a wisdom that came down to our world a long time ago. This wisdom did not originate in the mind of man, nor did it develop in the memory chips of a computer. This wisdom was the plan of God to help all people. The wisdom is older than the world, but it was born into the world. This wisdom is a person. It is Jesus Christ.
The Bible declares "Jesus Christ has become for us wisdom from God, that is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption" (I Cor 1:30). It says, "In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3).
We pray for Godís wisdom to come to us today. How can we have a life that is fulfilling? Can we find inner peace? What can we give to our children that will shape them in the right way all their lives? The answer is in the coming of Jesus Christ. He came in the manger of Bethlehem. He comes through the preaching of his word today, and in his holy Supper. He is coming again in all his power and glory on the last day.
Do we want the wisdom of God for ourselves? Then let us ask him for it. Let us expect God to lead us in righteousness and holiness. Turn from greed. Ask God to sanctify your mind, to sweep out the bad and fill it with his holy wisdom. Follow Jesus in the way of justice and righteousness. Through the gospel he has declared us to be free from evil. Therefore, stay away from it entirely. Seek the wisdom of Jesus Christ, to see things his way, and peace and blessedness will certainly follow.
The book of Proverbs begins, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline" (Prov. 1:7). We live in a community of very intelligent people. There are students and professors at the university whose command of knowledge is simply astounding. But we have been given a far superior wisdom than all of this. It is the wisdom that is Jesus Christ. It will never be superseded or pass away.
This is the reason for celebrating Christmas. The wisdom of God has come down and made himself one with us. This wisdom is able to make us wise for salvation. Let us sing together the stanza for today, as printed in the worship folder:
Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, Who ordered all things mightily; To us the path of knowledge show, And teach us in her ways to go. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!
Copyright © 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.
Send Pastor James F. Wright an email.