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IN the Spirit of Advent: INspection

Welcome to the Season of Advent

Welcome to the first Sunday of a new church year.

Officially past Thanksgiving & permission to “Get in the Christmas spirit”

Walking through that idea of IN the spirit over the next few weeks

As God approaches us again through this season, we may be struck by a spirit of Inspection Current events prompt us into this inspection mode:

  • The election cycle & the divisions it creates
  • The escalation of violence & the resulting social discord
  • The expansion of oppression & the increase of refugee-ism
  • Even the departure of Pastor Ian & his family

As we consider God; in his Word & the Nativity we sense discontinuity

There is a Pattern of God’s Conversation with Humanity in Scripture

  •  God approaches
  •  Awareness of discontinuity between the divine & the human
  •  God speaks
  •  A human response occurs
  •  God sends

Theophanies (manifestations of God) in Scripture have a distinct pattern

Isaiah 6

  • Isaiah’s transcendent vision of God on the throne
  • Isaiah’s confession of his own unworthiness
  • God’s statement of mission
  • Isaiah’s response
  • God’s commissioning & sending

Luke 24

  • Three cycles within this chapter
  • Jesus’ resurrection & the angels’ appearance
  • The women’s terror & confession of grief
  • The angels’ reminder of what Jesus had prophesied
  • The women remember
  • The Spirit sends them

Likewise with the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus & in the Room We see similar cycles of this ongoing dialogue:

  • God approaches
  •  Awareness of discontinuity between the divine & the human
  • God speaks
  • A human response occurs
  • God sends

Mark 1

God approaches in  – incarnation>Mary>Elizabeth>John the Baptist John proclaims discontinuity between God’s will & the people’s lives God begins preparing the way for Jesus’ embodied ministry The people respond in the wilderness, repenting & being baptized Jesus arrives to prepare us to be the ‘sent ones’ out into the world

Advent is a season of Inspection

The approach of God invokes a greater awareness of discontinuity Discontinuity is difference between God’s design & human reality Whenever God approaches the world, His people become more aware Whenever God approaches each of us, we become increasingly aware

INspection is an essential part of the salvation narrative

Consider the Exodus: the identity defining moment of the Israelites

  • The Exodus began with a season of Advent / Anticipation
  • That season of Advent/Anticipation began with Discontinuity
  • The life of God’s people in Egypt was contrary to God’s design
  • Discontinuity beautifully described in “O’Come O’Come Emmanuel”
  • The 400 year long experience of awareness of the discontinuity Between God’s design for his people and the reality of life

Consider the human existence described in our text today (Mark 1)

  • Another season of Advent created by another 400 year long reality
  • The failure to live up to the law, to live up to mercy & justice for all
  • God was approaching & His people were living out of sync with him
  • John was the voice calling out in the wilderness, preparing the way,
  • –    Driving this growing awareness of discontinuity
  • –    Causing a season of INspection that led to repentance/baptism

Consider our lives today – Are you feeling the discontinuity?

  • Violence feels like it’s on the rise
  • It feels like conflict is more the order of the day than is peace
  • People are being driven from their homes as refugees
  • People are being robbed of their dignity & prosperity
  • Hatred & bigotry & racism & sexism & selfishness of all kinds

Some days I wonder if we even understand God’s heart for

  • Widows & Orphans & Strangers
  • Justice for the vulnerable & defenseless & voiceless

Here’s the Good News

  • If you are feeling that discontinuity
  • If you are growing acutely aware of the gap between design & reality
  • You are probably in the best place you can be to embark on Advent
  • You are probably ripe for being “in the spirit” of INspection
  • Hold Fast, because salvation is coming

Remember our dialogue of worship:

  1. – God approaches
  2. – Awareness of discontinuity between the divine & the human
  3. – God speaks
  4. – A human response occurs
  5. – God sends

The spirit of Advent brings us into a posture of INspection

  • God’s approaching prompts an increased awareness of discontinuity
  • An awareness that things are not as they are supposed to be
  • Embrace that posture
  • Pray over those things in life that are out of sync with God’s heart
  • Pause … Advent is a season of pausing … listening … listening to God
  • That dialogue of worship doesn’t end with awareness of discontinuity God doesn’t leave us there
  • Awareness of Discontinuity is followed by God Speaking Listen for Him
  • Being IN the spirit of INspection prepares you to hear God speaking Listen for Him – Take this season to prepare for listening

Take this season to prepare the way of the Lord; to prepare for what’s coming

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