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A promise was made by ancient prophets: the Lord's anointed, the one who would save his people, would be born as a child. And so Israel waited and hoped and lived "in the meantime." Finally, the time came but they were not as prepared to recognize him. As John said, "he came to his own, but his own did not receive him."

On this first Sunday of Advent we too are living "in the meantime." The word "advent" is from the Latin and means 'coming to.' Advent is that time when we focus on the promise of Christ coming to the world. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is that time when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. It is not a passive waiting. It is time to prepare.

A lot of preparation is needed when a baby is expected. Equipment and supplies must be purchased, perhaps a room redecorated, and other physical preparations made. More importantly, Mom and Dad need to prepare mentally and emotionally. Then, when the time is right, the baby comes.

It seems that even God had to prepare for the birth of His son. Galatians 4:4-5 says: "When the right time came, God sent His son, born of a woman ... to buy freedom for us ... so that he could adopt us as his very own children." Notice the first words: "when the right time came." It implies a time of preparation.

God worked in history so that it was the right time in many ways for Christ to come. Politically, the Mediterranean world was united and at peace, thanks to the Roman Empire. One language, Greek, was spoken everywhere making it possible to preach the Gospel to many people groups. The Romans built roads for their armies which made it easy for missionaries to travel. Also, the old gods had lost their power and attraction leaving people hungry for a savior. It was the right time -- the world was ready.

I wonder if God, the Father, also had to prepare himself? He knew what would happen. He knew how badly this sin-sick, Satan-enslaved world needed his son. And he knew what it would cost to buy our freedom. Perhaps God was always ready, but I can't help feeling that the Father not only prepared the world but also prepared Himself so that "when the time was right, God sent his Son, born of a woman ... to buy freedom for us ... so that he could adopt us as his very own children."

In this Advent season we can prepare for the coming of the Christ child by remembering why he came -- to buy our freedom -- and how much it cost. It is why we come to this table and remember how the Lord Himself took the bread, broke it and said, 'this is my body, given for you.' And the cup also, saying, 'this cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins.

PRAYER: Almighty and Gracious Father, during this Advent season we celebrate the first coming of Your Son, Jesus Christ and look forward with great anticipation to His second coming. In the interim timeframe we will continue to remember and celebrate our covenant renewal each Lord’s Day. May you bless the bread and the cup of remembrance. AMEN!

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