Advent is a season of longing, of yearning for what is to come. It is much like the preparation for a wedding, knowing that the celebration is coming but not here yet.
The images of sheep and shepherd are woven throughout the Old Testament scriptures. From the image of David the shepherd who became king to the prophet Isaiah’s sheep going astray, these strokes paint for us a picture of a Messiah who shepherds his flock. So why is the character of a good shepherd one we should remember during Advent?
That grace takes a new form in Mary’s baby. Rather than an elaborate religious ritual that enabled one person to stand, as a representative, in the presence of God, God used the most natural of events (childbirth) to come and stand in our presence.
There is a clear response for Christians when we consider the coming, birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Hope, which is faithfulness and gratitude.
When we put our hope in Christ, it raises us up beyond the conditions and circumstances that might weaken most people.
Whenever we sin, God’s holiness demands justice. Our sin alienates us from God (Genesis 3:9). But Jesus steps in and says, “It’s okay, I have already paid for their sins.”
In this advent season, when we celebrate the incarnation, let us be careful to not let the sentimentality of the Christmas story hide the mystery of the God of the universe becoming that vulnerable child laying in a manger. That child is the same rock that miraculously provided for the Israelites in the desert, and he is the same rock in whom we can trust today.