Advent and the Dawn of Grace

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The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us … John 1:14

Advent. The celebration of the coming of the Messiah. The Advent season is meant to take us on a journey of remembrance, anticipation, and joy.

What is amazing is that the birth of Christ marks not a culmination but a new beginning. We are walking through life marred by hardships and difficulties. But now Jesus (Immanuel) walks with us. He loves and leads us through the storms of life, teaching (as we allow him) Kingdom lessons along the way, with the promise of one day bringing us home (see John 14:1-3).

The Dawning of Grace

While enjoying Advent this year I discovered a parallel event: the advent of grace.

Prior to Christ, grace was a softer word. Secularly it described a charming personality, acts of benevolence, a grateful response. The people of God gave it more substance, a descriptor of God as gracious, benevolent, steadfast in his love.

Then came Jesus, and grace came alive. What once was soft became grand. God’s grace – His unmerited favor – now fills us in ever-increasing measure: “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1:16).

The apostle Paul unveils the depths of grace more than any other New Testament writer. One usage was striking: “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery …(Ephesians 3:8-9).

“This grace was given me …” Paul’s grace, or life purpose, was both specific and broad. Paul was called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. That’s specific. But included in it was something far grander: to make plain to all (including the angels!) the fullness of God Kingdom agenda.

Grace For All

What if the joining of the specific and the grand was not unique to Paul, but was meant for everyone? 

Certainly, what we do varies. Raising a family, working a job, volunteering, taking classes at school, learning a trade, ministry, business – no matter our role or station in life, it is, according to Paul, a grace given us. So, Paul’s perspective raises important questions: 

  • How do I view my life? Do I see the accomplishment of tasks as a grace given? Does the work I do flow out of who I am, or draw out my very best? 
  • How does my life contribute to God’s Kingdom agenda? What if I intentionally tied my work to God’s greater plan. Would such an awareness affect my motivation? diligence? joy?

Jesus put it this way:

… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

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This is Advent. Our Messiah is coming. He brings with him an advent of grace that can fill our lives with meaning and joy.

The richness of being on a journey lies in the things one discovers along the way. We are still in the season. May God fill you this Advent Season with ever-increasing grace, and the discoveries that emerge while anticipating the coming of our Savior. 

Yours in Him,

Ted (reprint, Advent 2018)

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