The pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, once wrote, “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” As we celebrate this season at Exodus each year, we have an Advent reading during our worship services to reflect on what this season means for us.
I’ve always admired missionaries who go to serve in foreign lands. They’ve made the life-changing decision to heed God’s call to share the gospel in a new place to people they don’t yet know. The missionaries prepare for many months, getting rid of much of what they own, raising support, studying the language and culture and how to *be* missionaries. They pack what’s left in a few suitcases and they board the plane with their families, bound for their new home.
At first, it’s harder than they ever imagined. They move unsteadily into their new life, experiencing the frustrations that come with trying to make connections when language and understanding are limited. The things that had always been easy before now feel like an enormous challenge.
I imagine it was somewhat the same for Jesus. The God of Heaven was born as a helpless baby. He was fully God, and yet He was also fully man, bound in many ways by the limitations of a human mind and body. Luke 2:52 states that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature.” As He grew older and wiser, He relied less on others to meet His needs and worked to meet the needs of others. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, meeting the basic needs of their frail human bodies, but more importantly, He met the one great need of their souls—the need for salvation.
Not many of us will go out to foreign lands as missionaries, called to leave everything familiar behind for the cause of Christ. But we are all called to the mission field of where we live, work, and play.
Exodus Church seeks to be a redeemed people who worship and serve God in the world. We serve God in our homes and our community, in our church and in our work lives and social circles. We are surrounded each day by others who are lost, who are hungry for a purpose in their lives, and who are in need of the salvation of Christ.
Like foreign missionaries, we are called by God to minister to the needs of others by meeting them where they are and building relationships so that they can hear the good news that God loves them and sent His Son to be born as a baby, to live a life serving others, to die on the cross for their salvation, then to be raised again to life so that we can spend eternity with Him.
This Advent season, may we all find ways to be on mission with Christ by serving others and telling them the story of Jesus that brings joy to the world.