Advent – the God of the Resurrection
Acts 13: 30
“But God raised him from the dead”
The message of the church was and has always been ‘death, laid in the tomb, resurrected’.
What has resurrection got to do with Advent?
Surely it only appears at Easter?
That is certainly where we have reserved the word. One of my pet-hates is going to Church at a time of the year when the service is not focusing on the certain aspect of God for that day, ie. On Pentecost Sunday I want to hear of the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to be hearing about the story of Noah. I want to celebrate the events at the right time.
But today I wake to a difficulty. This week I am teaching the Christmas story in the 30 degrees heat of the Ivory Coast. It feels like the UK is having a glorious summer and it feels wrong to preach on Joseph and Mary and the birth of Christ. My mind is struggling with the adjustment!
So here we are, restricted by the plan of this devotional blog walking through Acts and we have this verse, “But God raised him from the dead” and it is Christmas!
I think the problem with my pet-hate is that I put these amazing words such as Resurrection and the Incarnation into secure unbreakable categories that actually then only focus on the grandiose understanding of the verse and miss a simple truth.
The word ‘resurrection’ simple means in Greek, ‘standing up’. It is ‘anastasis’.
Of course this is profoundly used for the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead and at the last judgment we too will rise.
But it means standing up, let’s not forget that also.
This Christmas we are again focusing on the birth of Christ. I have been blessed with 2 children and from birth I have seen their every development. I remember how they learned to crawl and then to stand. In learning to stand they learnt that after falling they stand again despite the fear of falling on the next step.
Isaiah said that the people walking in darkness have seen a great light (9:2). We do not have to stumble in danger now that the light has come. We can stand.
Zechariah sang that the coming redeemer has shone ‘on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.’ (Luke 1:79).
The resurrection power of Jesus is for now not after we have died. It is to enable us to stand again even in the difficult dark day, not after the ordeal.
Who put the ability for the Christ-child to get out of the manger himself and to stand? Who created the innate power within all of creation that whether a flattened flower or a fallen child (or adult!) or animal to get back up? Surely it is the Creator God with Resurrection power.
At that first Easter God raised Jesus from the dead but He had been raising Him at the first Christmas too.
Today no matter your state or status, circumstance or category, let God cause you to stand up. You can do this. You can rise in your life. You can think new thoughts again. You can reach out for joy. You can believe again. You can dream. You can stand up.
Resurrection is to be celebrated at the first Advent as well as the second.