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I've asked a cross-section of Anchorage pastors to comment upon Advent as an Antidote for Acquisitiveness or Consumerism. Our next pastor featured is Stephen Vicaro, pastor of Hillside O'Malley Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Gift giving is a challenge. The perfect gift is one that is wanted, needed, and unexpected. Satisfying all three of these criteria is uncommon, but sure to bring excitement to both the giver and receiver.
When God gave His Son to Humanity, few people were excited about the Gift. Jesus was wanted by some, needed by all, but most were not expecting Him. This is not to say that those who called themselves followers of the Creator were not “expecting” a Messiah. Indeed, they were waiting for Him, though not exactly.
God’s people were expecting one who would redeem them from poverty, save them from their enemies, deliver them from the Roman authority that was over them, and give them their heart’s desire, along with many other expectations.
Yet the Father arranged that His Son would be born in an animal shelter, raised by peasants, self-employed as a skilled laborer, without any formal education, and with no military training. Jesus was certainly not what His proclaimed people were expecting. So when Christ came the first time, they missed out on the joy. But He was so much better than what they were expecting: love, forgiveness, righteousness, purity. Only shepherds and foreign travelers, along with a few others who were true in heart, knew when he arrived. God’s perfect gift was only appreciated by a few.
As we celebrate Christ’s first advent and await His second, let us not miss out on the blessing that God has already given to us. Simplicity rather than extravagance, the spiritual rather than the material, giving rather than getting: these are some of the lessons that God gave us through His Son.