Advent Lessons

Now that I have finished reading papers, grading exams and posting grades, I hope to have some leisure time to complete my series on Salvation and begin blogging about other topics that interest me.  However, given that this Christmas week, I want to call attention to a series of sermons that I regard as outstanding Advent lessons.

Dean Barham, following the Old Testament texts of the lectionary, has led the Woodmont Hills Church through the season of Advent in December. His lessons, once they are all posted, will be available here.

This past Sunday Dean, by the mercy of God, delivered a powerfully moving lesson. It was one of the best “Christmas” sermons I had ever heard (or preached myself!). Focusing on Isaiah 9:2-9, Dean reminded us that this child was born in darkness but was also the ray of hope’s light in that darkness. To people who hear the announcement and see (or believe in) the birth of the child, this son is “wonderful counselor, mighty God, prince of peace and everlasting father.”

This child will reign as a wise visionary with a goal (wonderful counselor), a powerful and effective ruler (mighty God), a just and peaceful ruler (prince of peace), and a faithful lover who will never abandon us (everlasting father).

Nation after nation has longed for such a ruler. Even Americans long for the next Lincoln, or JFK or Ronald Reagan….and some even believe they found him in our current President. Story after story in both Scripture (Abraham & Sarah, Moses, David…) and among the nations have found hope in the birth of a child…the hope that another would come who would be a light in the darkness.

The birth of Jesus is our hope. To us a child has been given. In the midst of darkness–whatever shape that darkness may take–God gives a child who embodies hope. Wars will cease; injustice will not last; oppression will end, and death will not win. Hope dispels despair and empowers life.

Hope changes the world. Real hope, that is, not a false one to which all nationalism clings. Our hope is the son of David, Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, served among the hopeless in the Galilee of the Gentiles, crucified by Romans but raised from the dead by the Father through the power of the Spirit. This is real hope.

7 Responses to “Advent Lessons”

  1.   rich Says:

    i am a little courious john mark
    this being your first sem. back after a break,how many A’s total did you give out,compaired to 1st sem 2008.

  2.   rich Says:

    or is that 2007 boy oh boy how time flies

    •   John Mark Hicks Says:

      My first full semester since the Fall of 2007. 🙂

      I must admit that I was a bit more gracious this time around. I’ve learned to show myself grace, received grace from others, and grace seems more natural now. However, it is not all A’s since there is this thing about human responsiblity and taking ownership for our actions that is also important. Loving as God love us means that grace also involves allowing people (students even!) to learn from the consequences of their actions. I’ve also learned something about that these past two years. 🙂

  3.   nick gill Says:

    If someone were to offer me the Triceratopian dilemma of Arminianism, Calvinism, or Universalism — how would you recommend I avoid being gored?

    •   John Mark Hicks Says:

      While technically I would fall in more of the category of classic Arminianism (and it even depends on what one means by that!), I tend to transcend such questions by remaining within the economy of redemption.

      In other words, I want to talk about God, Christ, anthropology and Christ from the standpoint of what God has done, who I am, etc. within the outworking of salvation within history. So, for example, I want to stress we are saved by grace through faith for good works rather than theorize about what God did before history or will do with each individual at the end of history. I want to stay historically rooted–rooted in the history of salvation rather than in the theories of salvation.

      It seems to me that Calvinism, Arminianism and Universalism are theories rather than testimonies of God’s acts for humanity within history.

      I hope that helps a bit…at least it gives you some indication of my own direction.

  4.   rich Says:

    Turn walk up the mountain of faith to a point above look down and say i wonder did jesus merit savation or was his salvation by the fathers grace that ought to mess them up the art of deversion through a fundamential flaw in traditionial orth and refor theology i am board sorry nick

    •   rich Says:

      just after i posted this off my phone, i got out of my car at the house i had finished working on,there was an older mother, a wife,and a family that had called for a catholic priest to come over to there house and speak with the older mother,she is dieing, i got out of my car the son and the father and the priest were all standing there talking,i walked up and was told my work looked very nice by all, i said thank you, at that time i was introduced to the catholic priest,
      he held out his hand ….
      i smiled and said oh no give me a hug and we hugged and i said in his ear “that a boy”
      right after the hug the father the son and the priest looked at each other kinda befuddled,at the gracious acceptance not at all the norm….

      yes the change of 18 month’s on your blog
      befuddles even me.
      blessings john mark

Leave a Reply