the people of advent
Advent is a Lutheran Church. As Christians who trace our history back through the 16th century Reformation Movement in Europe, we Lutherans place a great deal of value in the proper distinction of law and gospel. The law shows us the perfect life that God wants for us. Unfortunately, because we're broken by sin, the law shows us how we've fallen short of God's intent for us. The law is good, but our sin is bad. We can't earn our way out of our brokenness by good behavior. The only way we can be rescued from our sin is by God himself. Thankfully, that's where the gospel comes in. The gospel is the good news that Jesus rescues us from everything that is bad. By his death on the cross, Jesus has taken the eternal guilt of all sin of all people of all time. Jesus has rescued us from the eternal consequences of our sin. Jesus takes the blame for us. But Jesus doesn't just take, Jesus gives. Jesus gives us his perfect righteousness and Jesus gives us a promise--the good news that his resurrection isn't just for him, one day we will be resurrected to eternal life, perfect life as God intended from the very beginning.
Every Sunday, we have a time of confession and absolution. Confession is a quiet time where we reflect on our week and see our sin in it. Absolution is a time where the good news of God's forgiveness in Christ is spoken once more. That's what we're all about.
What's life all about? What am I supposed to do?
Pastors are there to tell you to look at Jesus. He's the one who can save you. He's the one to give you peace. He's the one to fill you with hope. He's the one sent by his Father. He's the one who sends his Spirit, the Comforter. Jesus is the king of glory. Jesus is the great high priest. Jesus is the prophet of God. He's the mediator between God and humanity. He's the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He's Immanuel (God with us). His name tells us exactly who he is and what he came to do (Jesus means Yahweh is salvation). Jesus is the Author of Life. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. He's truth. He's so much more.
Look at Jesus.
the big picture
"You have been buried with Christ in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and sins, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him." Colossians 2:12-15
The Bible doesn't let us get away with ignoring the harsh realities of our existence: evil, pain, suffering, death. While we're inclined to distract ourselves from these unpleasantries, the Bible deliberately draws our attention toward them. In fact, the culmination of the Bible's storyline is the crucifixion of Jesus. To many of his contemporaries, Jesus' shameful death was seen as an unmitigated failure, but the Bible actually calls his
crucifixion a triumph.
That seems like a switch from the normal way of thinking. In fact, it is a switch. A swap. An exchange. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul puts it this way, "For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
God made everything good. The bad things are our fault. Nevertheless, God took the blame that we deserved. God gives us his promise that Christ is the first of what's to come. In his resurrection, everything will be made good once more. We hear so much bad news on a daily basis that it's hard to believe. Yet, we trust God's promise that the earth itself will be born again. That's faith.