“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” – Jeremiah 29:11-14
Today is the “Third Sunday in Advent.” As promised I am continuing to re-work the traditional “Hope, Peace, Love & Joy” December breakdown.
Right off the bat, I need to mention there is no substitute, no equivalent, no alternative for the word Love. Fact is, love undergirds the entire Advent conversation. We could not even begin to take this journey to Bethlehem were it not for the all-encompassing unconditional love that is the character of God.
Jesus is God’s invitation
However, we are heading toward December 25 in response to an invitation. Jesus is God’s invitation. We have all received a “Golden Ticket,” upgraded, first-class, top-drawer invitation to the most amazing event ever, and God’s invitation to us is in the person of Jesus.
The Magi may have been seeking the newborn king, but they were only looking for the birth because they had already been invited. “You would not seek me,” 17th-Century philosopher/theologian/mathematician Blaise Pascal suggests the voice of God beckons, “If you had not already found me.”
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,” God says, “and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” – Jeremiah 29
Jesus is God’s invitation. God’s intention is that all of us look up and around, recognize the invitation for what it is, and simply step into this amazing new story, the story that Jesus started to write even before the moment of his conception.
“Because of the tender mercy of our God,” John the Baptist’s father Zechariah said, speaking of Jesus, “the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, and he is going to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1).
This is the invitation, that we walk as children of light and respond by allowing Jesus to guide our feet into the way of peace. This is the way out of darkness!
True Christianity is invitational in nature. Jesus came to do away with the exclusions, the holier-than-thou’s, the finger-pointing, the peremptory judgments. Jesus replaced all that with a grace-animated invitation and a wide-open door. “Find your rest in me,” he said – and still says today (Matt 11:28-30).
Light, Grace, Invitation & Promise – DEREK