Christmas Ads and Advent

My grandchildren enter my room: “Good Morning Pop-Pop!”

“Good morning kids. How are you this morning?”

Silence – my grandchildren have already been “sucked into” whatever advertisement is on TV.

This is what advertisements are designed to do – to advertise – “to draw attention to a product, service or event in a public medium in order to promote sales or attendance.”  (Microsoft Smart Lookup/Oxford University Press)

It might come as a surprise. But did you know that Jesus not only recommended but commanded his followers to advertise? It is true. John 13.34, 35 is often referred to as the new commandment. Jesus said: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

One of the ways which Christians obey this commandment is through their “fellowship.” Sometimes the word generates confusion, but the term conveys the idea of participation – Stepping into the lives of others. This means that we are called to be involved in both the high and low points of each other’s life experiences.

A good illustration of this occurred a few weeks ago. As I was exiting church after Sunday worship, a friend and Deacon asked me if I needed help with anything. I had just become aware of a leaking supply line and toilet ring. I mentioned this to my friend in he set up a time when he would come over and “tighten the fittings.”

Well, as anyone who has ever done a home plumbing project knows, one thing leads to another and another… Even though Jake had brought with him the supplies he thought he would need, this “quick fix” involved two more trips to Lowe’s, a couple of inquiries to his plumbing contacts and finally arranging a next day appointment with the plumber. The issue was finally resolved, but not without much effort and investment of time by my friend.

Judy and I very much appreciate the love Jake Hughes expressed to us. But there is much more. Over the last two years we have benefited from great expressions of love from our church family. So, this is an advertisement for Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church in Hampton, Virginia.

At the risk of forgetting or omitting someone, we wish to praise the Lord for our pastor, elders and deacons (especially Toby Comeaux and Dave Parker) along with other ministry leaders who contribute to the leadership of our church. We also want to particularly recognize those who drive me to the VA hospital on a regular basis: Bruce Tuttle, Dave Bailey and Dave Mericle. There are several members who have “sat” with me in order that Judy might have a fuller orbed life beyond my demanding care. These include: Josh Phillips, Bethann Doughty, Jack Hatfield, Pastor Jeff Ferguson, Tony and Tracy Abernathy, Van Rhodes, Angela Hurst, Bob and Joanne Yorks, Bobby Sperry and Jeff Lee. Dan Phillips and his family have also encouraged and blessed us in many ways. Further, the men of the church have helped with routine maintenance on a couple of Saturday mornings.

For all this and more, we are extremely grateful. Some have visited me in the hospital and many others give a cheerful greeting on Sunday mornings, helped me with my computer, participate in Sunday school classes and small group Bible studies.

So yes, this truly is an advertisement for Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church. More than that it is at authentication that we truly are the Lord’s people. My goal in declaring this is to draw attention to what the Lord Jesus is doing through his church. I want to advertise the goodness of the Lord. I also know this is true of many other churches. Perhaps you are involved in a church like this. I hope that you are. It truly is a great blessing.

While Christian Fellowship is a great blessing, there is one that surpasses it – one upon which Christian fellowship is based. As I mentioned above, this concept of fellowship calls for participating in the life of others. At this time of the year, we traditionally celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, also known as Advent. Advent means coming, the coming of the promised Messiah into the world. The Bible identifies this Messiah as Jesus Christ, who is the unique God-man.

Another term related to advent is incarnation. This is not a word found in the Bible, but the Latin terms in carne translates the Greek for “in flesh” which does closely allude to several New Testament passages. The concept describes the action of God the Son adding a complete human nature to his divine nature. This marvelous concept is well beyond our ability to comprehend, but we do well to wonder at it.

The apostle Paul ponders this point and traces out the purpose and result of the incarnation Philippians 2.6 – 11:

(speaking of Jesus Christ) … who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Fellowship… Advent… Incarnation – each of these terms highlight the invasion of God into the world he created. The son of God entered into our human experience. That is, he has fellowship with us in our humanity (except without sin). As a man, he did what we are unable to do. He kept God’s law, never rebelling but always submitting to his Father’s will for his life. This ultimately resulted in his suffering a violent death on the cross. He suffered and died as a substitute for sinners. His work was to “save his people from their sins.”

The incarnation, the First Advent, marked the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide salvation for his rebellious creatures. We celebrate Christmas because it is foundational to Good Friday and Easter. With this in mind, read the words to Hark the Herald Angels Sing:

1 Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King;
peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise;
join the triumph of the skies;
with the angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

2 Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold him come,
offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity,
pleased as man with us to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel. [Refrain]

3 Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild, he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth. [Refrain]


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