Prepare for Worship: Notes for services on November 30, 2014

"Anticipating the End" (part 1)

Rev. Steve Hartman on  2 Peter 3:1-13


Advent is a term which stems from Latin ‘adventus’, or “coming.” It is a time for Christians to consider both Christ’s first coming to the world as a real baby and his glorious second coming.  It’s also a time to reflect on important foundations of the Christian faith, including the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth. 

On this First Sunday of Advent, we will be focusing on the second coming of Jesus Christ and the difference that can make to the way we live now. 

For some it comes as a surprise that we should direct our attention to the second coming of Christ and not just the first coming.  However, down through history, Advent has been understood as a time to look towards Jesus’ final triumphant return before looking back to and celebrating his first coming.  About this alternate  "the last shall be first" movement from the future to the past (from the second coming of Christ to focusing on the first coming of Christ), Robert Webber has said, “We are seeking a vital personal encounter with Christ in this Advent pilgrimage.  We are seeking to move from the “old life” lived under the power of self-centered human nature to the new life lived under the power of the Holy Spirit.”   May our Lord make that truth the center of our lives this Advent season!

The Prophesy Candle

This week we light the first candle on the Advent wreath, a light representing Prophesy. Isaiah 9:2-7 reminds us of the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem, but also looks forward to Christ’s return when all the prophesies are fulfilled by the Prince of Peace! 

 1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. 3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.