800-years before the birth of Christ, the Major Prophet Isaiah prophesied his coming to a world facing the advance and oppression of the Assyrians, the global superpower of its day. Isaiah's prophecy was a word of national hope to the Jewish world that signaled the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant that a new king would soon sit on the throne. In the words of the late theologian James Cone, God was coming to be on the side of the oppressed. Given COVID-19 infections and unimaginable deaths in America alone, a still legally contested US Presidential election, the continued brutality and fatality of black and brown bodies nationwide, the seemingly silence of many racial churches in the face of such racial injustice and horrendous human suffering and corruption challenges internationally, if we ever needed hope before in America, we surely need it now. Thank God that unto us a child is born. Thank God that unto us a son is given as the hope of the world and particularly hope for the hurting. It's because if ever we needed hope before, we need it now. My hope for the world today is the hope Jesus brings to keep redemptive hope that suffers to save alive. Is your redemptive hope alive? If so, then join me during this Advent season in lifting that antiphonal refrain of the hymn of the church The Solid Rock that declares,
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
Hope for Hurting Humanity
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, Isaiah 9:6
The Meaning of Advent
Advent is a time of awaiting, anticipating, and celebrating the coming of Christ. I hope you enjoy these Advent meditations taken from my Advent sermon collection. I pray these Advent thoughts will be a blessing to you by firing your faith and help you share your faith as you seek to be a blessing to others as you celebrate Advent. Thank you for visiting us and I wish you an exciting, inviting, and inspirational Advent season! May you meet God afresh, hear and heed His words as He makes His advent into the world.
REVEREND DR. A. CARL PRINCE
The Prince of Peace
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you., John 14:27A
Tragically one of the most elusive commodities of our day is peace. Trending topics online often point to a world at war at home and abroad. Nations are against nation, husbands and wives are in divorce court battling one another over custody and asset challenges, corporations are at war against competitive corporations, and more. So, the signs are ubiquitous that we are a world at war and not peace. During the peace movement of the 1960s and even today many pacifists who worked for peace and work for peace today as peace lovers wore and wear peace tattoo body art. They've always proudly flashed peace signs and pushed peace talks in the face of hawkish warmongers and neurotic overbearing political control freaks. Despite our attempts at national political peace talks, attempts at corporate mediation and human reconciliation to prevent the continued carnage of relational extermination and marital termination, there are tragic signs of more war and rumor of war. Too often today we turn to quiet streams to find peace or perhaps a bird that sings in a storm. These are externalities that bring momentary peace. Yet, true internal and eternal peace is found only in the Prince of Peace. God in Christ gave us peace. In the Upper Room with his disciples Christ said, in the Greek Εἰρήνην ἀφίημι ὑμῖν which means, Peace I leave with you. He went on to say, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. Through these words I received peace. Need peace this Advent season? I recommend Jesus, the Christ the Prince of Peace. May the peace of God through the historical Jesus who came to bring peace on earth rule in your heart richly not only during the Advent season but throughout the balance of your life.
Ask some individuals where to find joy and they will inform you they find joy in the simple things of life such as rock climbing, biking, jogging, coin, and stamp collecting. Some people find joy in the gift of material things such as a diamond ring, a gold watch, a new car, or a new home. Without these material things they struggle to find lasting joy. Joy is a noun. It is something we possess. Yet to rejoice is a verb. It is an action, as an activity that we engage in as saints of God. One writer said happiness is momentary while joy is lasting contentment. If that be the case, I do not want mere happiness alone. I want some joy on my journey to have lasting contentment in my spirit so that every day and in every way, I can rejoice as I can count it all joy because Christ came during Advent that we might have joy. Despite our daily grief, we should have joy as a personal spiritual possession and act by rejoicing on the journey. God gave Mary joy upon informing her that she had been chosen to bring forth the Christ child. She was filled with so much joy that she broke out rejoicing. Mary was so joyful that she sang the Magnificat, a song of joyful praise unto God. Do you have joy? Are you joyful in Jesus? If so, then talk action this Advent season and rejoice. Sing a song of joy to celebrate the coming of Jesus the Christ to save us from our sins and who sent us another comforter in his absence as our keeper. Each day of Advent find ways to sing a song of joy and count it all joy because Christ brings joy to the world! I Sing a song of joy because after all the things you have been through, you still have joy!
Living for His Love
For millennia we have heard songs on love, poetic expressions of love, quotes about love, and promenade through impressive art galleries while viewing breathtaking portraits of love. We have attended the theater and have been emotionally overtaken by the love between Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. We have fallen in love with characters on the screen of romantic love genres on sitcoms and on the silver screen of Hollywood cinematography with their star-studded cast. Internationally pastors, bishops, imams, priests, padres, rectors, rabbis, apostles, and licentiates have waxed eloquently in pulpits on the love of God. Many today are looking for love at home in the family, on the job among co-workers, in the park among strangers, on college campuses in class and across the campus. They show up in churches looking for love, for someone they can embrace on a date and for someone with whom they can relate in the church. They show up in virtual gatherings online, and at dating sites looking for love. They show up at weddings, in bars, restaurants and sporting events, at the ballet, and many other places looking for love. Living among alleged maniacal sociopaths and controlling psychopaths many have gone undercover looking for love even in a COVID-19 masked man and woman social context. To fill the void in their being, to break the monotony of routine living, to create excitement in their anatomy, many are looking for love. They are not always looking for anything deep. Some only seek platonic love that provides companionship. Some want love that is going somewhere lasting. They want an exclusive and committed lover while others only want a temporary kind of lover. Whatever love you seek be careful how you share your love because its dangerous out there when you share your love. You can fall in love and you can be heartbroken with love. It can last and it may not last. You might think its love and it may not be love at all. So, there are tremendous risks with love. The world offers many loves. Greek culture lifted four kinds of love. Eros is an erotic love. Phila is a brotherly love. Storge is a familial love of parents for children. Agape love is a selfless love. Pragma is enduring love. Ludus is playful love. Mania is obsessive love. Philautia is a self-love. These loves all have their place. But only agape is a God type of selfless love. These other loves cannot save us. Therefore, we need the agape love of God to save us. I love God's agape love because it is incomparable to any love in the world as the greatest love of all. God's love is an eternal love that knows no earthy bounds. Before time began God’s, love existed in the DNA of God. That is why the Bible says God is love. The good news of Advent is God's did not remain in eternity. In the fullness of time His love stepped out of eternity into our existential veil of tears to be our Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us. God's love showed up in time as the Word Made Flesh in a barn on the backstreets of Bethlehem to walk our walk and to participate in our pain because He loved us. In our hedonistic hubris we want to live, drink and be merry and love on our own terms. Yet God's love in Christ Jesus came to die for our sins. And he died for us. That is what Advent is all about. Because he first loved us to the point of a kenosis, of renouncing his royalty. He emptied himself of himself to walk among us and to love us. We owe Him our spiritual reciprocity to not only love him back but to love one another as He loved us. Because of His love, I have decided to let the world do as it wishes. But because He lived to love me and died to save me, I am determined to spend the balance of my life living for His love. Will you live for His love? Live and give of yourself to make the world a better place in which to live racially, and powerfully and persistently, socially, and emotionally and spiritually. Live for His love!