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We live in a time of information explosion. The news is accessible 24/7 through multiple channels and stations. Yet, are we any less confused about what's going on than those who once received the news by way of telegraph and a thin, village newspaper? We have more information, but it's on subjects in which our understanding is severely limited or nonexistent. We are becoming more and more dependent on wise men, scholars, experts, specialists, editorialists, pundits, and "Monday morning quarterbacks" to interpret the information for us. That raises the question, "Which of them can be trusted?" King Herod turned to "the chief priests and scribes of the people" to interpret the data for him. But the Lord has a habit of revealing the truth through the most unlikely candidates and to the most unlikely candidates.
The numbers on the clock change. A moment ago it said 4:25. Now it says 4:26. How insignificant that seems.
And yet the passage of time is not insignificant at all. Time is not merely drifting or flying by us. Like the many people who will be traveling during the coming holidays, time is moving towards a destination.
Departures and Arrivals. Those are the words you see printed above the monitors in airport terminals. If you are waiting for a loved one’s flight to come in, then you are very interested in knowing their time of arrival. You check the airline name, place of departure, estimated time of arrival, and gate number listed on the monitor. If you’re the one who is traveling, you check the monitor to see if your flight will be leaving on time. You check not only the airline name, flight number, and departure time to make sure you’re looking at the correct flight. You check the destination, too. The destination is significant. Who cares what time that flight leaves for Detroit? You’re flying to Houston! That’s your destination!
Time, also, is headed towards a destination, and that is significant! Time’s destination is Jesus and His second arrival.
And that destination is what makes you significant. Bethlehem may be a little town, but even in the grand scheme of time and history you are not little. Jesus died and rose for you. Jesus’ saving work makes you significant.
Since it was for you that Jesus died and rose again, time is not merely drifting or flying by for you. You’re like a passenger on an airliner, anticipating your arrival at a destination you’ve never been to previously. And you wait like one whose family is coming to visit for the holidays. Their flight seems to have been delayed. You don’t know when they’ll arrive. You know only that you want everything to be ready.
But what does that even mean? How do you know you’re ready for the arrival of the One who loves you the most and the best? How do you prepare?
Perhaps by thinking back. Your future is hidden from you, but the past isn’t. The one may be able to teach you about the other. How was it with the people who awaited Jesus’ first arrival? How did they get ready?
Over the coming weeks of Advent, let’s find out.
Wednesday, December 5: Contracts often include specific language and certain time limits. By the time Gabriel notified Zechariah he was to become a father, Zechariah may have felt that the Lord was long overdue in responding to his prayer. The time limit was up. So, Zechariah wanted more specific language. In our own preparation for Jesus’ arrival, is a promise enough? Zechariah’s response to God’s promise provides food for thought – “How Shall I Know This” (Luke 1:5-18).
Wednesday, December 12: There seldom comes a day that brings only happiness or only sadness. Each day can bring a variety of emotions. Simeon came to Mary with both good news and bad news. Her response to his mixed news guides us in our own preparations for Jesus’ arrival as we ask, “O Lord, With Which Emotion Shall I Greet Thee?” (Luke 2:25-35)
Wednesday, December 19: Any journey, whether by car, bus, or plane, requires some planning. When Joseph and Mary “went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem” in order to register for the census that had been decreed by the Roman emperor, they would have traveled for several days. Was such a journey all that simple? What did they eat and drink? Where did they stay at night? What was their mode of transportation? Where did they plan to stay when they arrived at their destination? Consider your life’s journey. What a plan He has woven for your life over the years. So also, He wove His salvation plan through the blood lines of Mary and Joseph, their ancestors, and all of human history. How deep and complex was His preparation for Jesus’ arrival we will consider under the title, “In the Fullness of Time” (Luke 2:1-5).
Pastor Jim Dunn
This Sunday, September 16, Immanuel kicks off a new Bible study in the Sunday Adult Bible Class, titled One God, many gods. We will do an overview of 14 different religions in 14 Sundays. This Sunday we will cover the religion of Islam. Please count yourself in.