Ask A Pastor
By Scott T. Sharp,
Pastor, First Baptist Church Nashville
Question: “For you as a pastor, what does Advent mean?”
There’s a line in the song “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” which is one of my favorites and speaks directly to what Advent means to me:
“Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord. Late in time, behold him come, Offspring of a virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.”
Our word Advent is derived from the Latin adventus which means “to come.”
Christmas, the season of Advent, is about God coming to the earth as a human man in the form of Jesus Christ for the purpose of offering Himself as the one-time sacrifice for the sins of all men.
On a day-to-day basis, the most important part of Christmas for me is reflected in the spirit of giving which exists during this time of the year.
It’s a spirit we could use more of all through the year – one which would fundamentally change society.
This spirit of giving is directly tied to God’s gift of Jesus during Advent and the correlation is eloquently summarized by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi.
Paul writes: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In these verses we find a microcosmic view of what life was supposed to be – what God intended it to be. It is exactly the message Jesus delivered when He came to the earth.
When asked what the two greatest commandments were, Jesus responded:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
For me, Advent is about loving God with all my heart, soul and mind, and loving my neighbor as I love myself.