Lighting The Candle of Christ

At my church, which is a PCUSA church lights a candle each week of Advent. The final candle, the one that sits in the center is the Christ candle. I would like to share my reflections on and what others have said about Jesus. My intention is that my words will not only help you celebrate the Advent season better and deeper, but live the season in your heart now and later.

My last reflection on the Advent season will be on Jesus. Jesus is a unique person in the history of mankind. There has and never will be another person like him. No other single person has meant what he does and has affected our world in such a deep way. This is a season celebration and remembrance of Jesus first coming, wondering and waiting for the second coming of Jesus. Exhilaration, expectation, and hope define this season. We remember and praise the birth of a homeless babe in a manger through this single birth it is proclaimed peace on earth and goodwill to mankind. Jesus, the homeless preacher and healer brought to the world eternal life and stories that point to how life ought to be lived. We expect the return of Jesus and His Kingdom and through all this is the hope that good will triumph and that love does really win. That’s really what Christmas is saying that good, love, grace, and joy will have the last word. When we celebrate Christmas and light the advent candles, we are putting our trust and our entire beings in the story that God is telling us.

Let’s hear what a few people have said about Jesus.

Mahatma Gandhi: A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.

Historian Kenneth Scott LaTourette: As the centuries pass, the evidence is accumulating that, measured by His effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet.

Napoleon Bonaparte: Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.

H.G. Wells: I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

Of all the great leaders of history, Jesus stands out and alone unique. God intervened decisively in human history in Jesus and nothing is the same. We can deny or accept, but no one can ignore Jesus. Jesus is different. Jesus preached a new message, a new commandment of how we should live with love and grace, radically different from all the philosophy and religion of the past. He didn’t give a detailed plan of how we can earn our way back to God, but said, “God loves you. Let me show you how much.” Then, he went about showing through his actions and his dying on a cross how much God loves us in spite of ourselves. What Jesus did was present and manifests God in such a deeply authentic way that when one saw Jesus they experienced the divine. To experience Jesus was and is to experience God. He lived his message, accepting and forgiving the most despised sinners. He faced familiar human struggles, yet remained compassionate never once backing down from his commandment to love everyone. Finally, he accepted the ultimate act of love lying down his life for the sake of others. For Jesus this was not a one-time gift but a continual, renewable gift for all who trusted in him. It is through Jesus that everyone can experience eternal life starting now and stretching beyond the grave.  

So, throughout this season when we spent time with loved ones, looked at the pretty lights, sang carols, watched new and classic holiday films, worshiped with our church family, read the bible and reflections on the Christmas story, and shared our thoughts on the season and Jesus it was Jesus we were being pointed to and were point towards. Jesus stands at the center of this season and history itself and beckons us to come and see that God is good.

Our faith is not in any man made thing, but in the person of Jesus. We are not to go by our rules or live by the rules of any system of the world but the teachings and words of Jesus. When we trust that Jesus is truth and love personified and put all our faith in him we will not go wrong.  

N.T. Wright: When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves–that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience.

As we go into the New Year, let us stay centered on Jesus and deepen our walk with him. There are concrete things we can do. Some of which is treating others as we would like to treated and not asking for anything in return. We need to not only think or worry of what we are going to do, because it’s not really about doing as it is about living. We live in the ways Jesus point us too. There will be times when we stumble or fall on our faces, but I believe if we step out in faith than God will meet us there and great things can and will happen. I believe if groups of us start living our faith out in the world in real life ways than we can make a difference. Jesus doesn’t want mere pew sitters He wants to make disciples out of us.

This is the way of the cross: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Mark 8)

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