David Dunlop will revert to Revelation in January. But now, as we enter the Advent season, waiting and preparing to celebrate the first coming of Jesus, David has opted for an Advent series, with the wish that we can take time out to read Advent devotions each day, having time to reflect and focus as well as time in the Majestic, with others, to join in worship and contemplation.
As usual we were asked a question:
“What are your expectations of Christmas?”
and then to complete the sentence:
“I expect Christmas this year to be ….”
With all that is happening this season it is important to remember that Advent is ultimately a season of expectation and that on that very first Christmas came the fulfilment of ancient expectancy.
GREAT EXPECTATION No.1
This is a prediction regarding the future birth of a son, one born to a virgin, who would be called Immanuel – ‘God with us’. For over 700 years, that great expectation grew and became embedded in people’s hearts and minds.
GREAT EXPECTATION No.2
One night 700 years later a girl, a virgin, receives a visit from a heaven-sent messenger, confirming that she is about to fall pregnant, about to become an expectant mother, and the child in her womb would be none other than the long-expected Jesus, the Son of the Most High.
Reading: Luke 1: 26 – 38.
From this passage, listed below are the expectations:
- You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son
- He will be called Jesus
- He will be great
- He will be called Son of the Most High
- The Lord will give to Him the throne of his father David
- He will be a king
It is of note that the virginal conception of Jesus is a supernatural miracle, worthy of our awe and worship each and every Advent and Christmas.
Note what the angel Gabriel says about Mary:
- She is highly favoured (in other words highly graced). Some of us, like Mary, need to be reminded that we are highly, passionately, completely loved and valued by God.
- The Lord is with her.
As an aside, David reminded us that we are precious in God’s sight, and He is with us. We can be confident of this at this Christmas time.
And note Mary’s reaction:
- That of humility, submission and surrender.
Back to David’s earlier question:
“What are your expectations of Christmas 2023?”
David’s prayer is that they will be heavily influenced by great ones, and that we may take time to fully invest in and enter into this season of expectation.
A personal takeaway:
David read a passage about God’s inexhaustible grace for an exhausted world.
This is worthy of quoting in full and reflecting on in this Advent season:
GRACE IS LOVE THAT SEEKS YOU OUT WHEN YOU HAVE NOTHING TO GIVE IN RETURN. GRACE IS LOVE COMING AT YOU THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. GRACE IS BEING LOVED WHEN YOU ARE UNLOVABLE…. THE CLICHE DEFINITION OF GRACE IS ‘UNCONDITIONAL LOVE’. IT IS A TRUE CLICHE, FOR IT IS A GOOD DESCRIPTION OF THE THING. LET’S GO A LITTLE FURTHER, THOUGH. GRACE IS A LOVE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU, THE BELOVED. IT HAS EVERYTHING AND ONLY TO DO WITH THE LOVER. GRACE IS IRRATIONAL IN THE SENSE THAT IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY INTRINSIC QUALITIES OR SO-CALLED ‘GIFTS’ (WHATEVER THEY MAY BE). IT REFLECTS A DECISION ON THE PART OF THE GIVER, THE ONE WHO LOVES, IN RELATION TO THE RECEIVER, THE ONE WHO IS LOVED, THAT NEGATES ANY QUALIFICATIONS THE RECEIVER MAY PERSONALLY HOLD…. GRACE IS ONE-WAY LOVE.
Tullian Tchidivjan, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. (Colorado Springs: David Cook, 2013), 32-33.