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Advent Hour

December 18, 2016



Fr. Gary W. Thurman

 All around us today – billboards and advertisements - are telling us one message: they are encouraging us to have a very special Christmas.  One particular billboard says, “We are what you need.”  Their store; their products; their gifts to have a very special Christmas.  I am pretty sure that there is nothing this store can offer us that will guarantee us a very special Christmas because their idea of a very special Christmas is getting that perfect gift for that special someone.  If this special someone is so excited about that perfect gift, then this makes this a very special Christmas. Their attitude is this way because when you get that special gift from them, that makes it very special for them, too, and this is what they are interested in.


I don’t think there is any special or perfect gift that will make your Christmas special.  What makes your Christmas special is that we are prepared for it and we understand what we receive on that evening of the 24th and the day of the 25th.  It is not under the Christmas tree or the Christmas stocking or what the tradition of our family follows, but the gift in the manger. 


The purpose of the Advent Hour and long before it was called Advent Hour and Simbang Gabi, the monks of more than a thousand years ago prepared the eight services before Christmas and they penned what they call Antiphons.  It is one for each eight days before Christmas.  In each of these Antiphons, they illustrated and highlighted one of the things the world was looking and longing and pining for in the coming of Christ.  These eight Antiphons illustrate for us what Jesus has become for us.


Who is that Baby in the manger? If we listen to all the advertising and the hoopla and the publicity going on,  we would think that when we come to the manger, we would look inside and see Santa Claus because that is all that we hear about.  Advent Hour points us to who that baby really is, who God promised He would be, who He came to be, and who He has become for us. This is the purpose of the Advent Hour and the Antiphons – to focus our minds on who really is coming.  Otherwise, Christmas Day will come and we won’t know who came!  We won’t understand who He is. 


Every year, we highlight who Jesus is.  On the first day, we highlighted “Emmanuel” – God with us!  How the world longed for God to come and be with them. God promised this through Isaiah and He fulfilled this promise.


On this second day, we focus on how the world longed to receive from the Lord the Wisdom from on High.  This is found in numerous Scriptures in the Old Testament.  Proverbs highlighted it.  There are also some New Testament passages that remind us, but the song puts it forth and say, “O come, Wisdom from on High who orders all things mightily.”  God put everything together and God set things to work a certain way.


Psalm 104: 24 says, “Lord, how many are Your works.  How many of these things You have made.  In wisdom, You have made them all.”  God created the world; He created His kingdom in wisdom – not just the planet or the things on the planet, but the way the world works or the system the world works.  It is basically operating on God’s system and principle on love.  He created all of these and He created it with wisdom.   When we follow God’s order that He created, all those works and things that He ordered in wisdom mightily, we receive the benefits of His kingdom – the joy; the peace; the righteousness – the things that all those perfect gifts and perfect people will never really bring to us. 


There is a story of a man who wanted to get a present for his little boy for Christmas.  He wanted to get the little boy his first tricycle.  He went to a store and looked everything for a tricycle that he really, really liked.  He went to the sales clerk and pointed to the model of the tricycle that he liked.  The sales clerk got the item for the little boy and said to the man, “Here is your tricycle, Sir.”  The man said, “There is no way the tricycle will fit that box!”  The sales clerk said, “No, Sir, you have to put it all other.” The man said, “I am a lawyer and I really cannot remember being mechanical. I am great in the court room, in briefings, and in the Law office, but I don’t know how to put things together.”  The sales clerk said, “Don’t worry, we have the instruction manual. We will give it to you, and it will tell you everything you need to put together this tricycle.  You cannot fail, just read the instruction manual.”


When the man got home and after he put his little boy to sleep, he opened the box and started taking out the parts and started putting things together. To the man, it did not just make any sense at all.  Nothing worked!  He called the store and said, “I am trying to put my tricycle, and it doesn’t just fit.  It doesn’t look like the parts go on the right place.”  The sales clerk asked, “Sir, did you follow the instructions?”  The man said, “Yes, I followed the manual you gave me and it is not just working.”   The sales clerk said, “Now, bring everything back to the store and we will see what we can do.”


The man went back to the store the next day and he showed the sales clerk what he was trying to put together.  The sales clerk asked for the manual and he found out that the instruction manual the man had was for a bicycle not a tricycle.  This is why the man was not able to put together the tricycle because what the manual he had was for a bicycle.


This is what we try to do.  The song says, “Lord, be Wisdom for us from on High.”  God wants to give us Wisdom from on High, but we are receiving the wisdom from the world.  If we try to work God’s kingdom with the instruction from the wisdom from the world, it is like putting together a tricycle with an instruction manual for a bicycle.   It is not going to work.  The world has lots and lots of good information with thick manuals, but little do they have instructions to live in the kingdom of God.  There are a lot of instructions for how to do things the way the world tells us, but what the world aches and longs for and to receive from the Lord Jesus is Wisdom from on High. 


Wisdom from on High is the instruction manual that we should be looking for.  If we find that, receive that and walk in that, we will receive the glorious liberty of the children of God, the glorious benefit of walking in His wisdom and His ways.


The song says, “To us the path of knowledge show and teach us in her ways to go.”  Jesus came to show us the way to go.  He showed us how to put together a tricycle with the parts for a tricycle. He showed us the way to walk in the kingdom of God with the elements of the kingdom of God – all the fruits of the Holy Spirit; all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The Psalms says that the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple.


When we receive Christ, the Wisdom from on High, it makes us wise because He has become for us the wisdom from God.  God has made the wisdom of the world foolishness, but the things of God, which are a mystery, has been made known to us by the Spirit.  God comes to us as Wisdom of God, as Wisdom of the Spirit.


We ask, “How can I receive this?”  God says that we have received not the spirit of the world, not man’s wonderful ideas of doing things, but we have received the Spirit of God that we can walk in the things of the Spirit and walk in the things of wisdom.  When the world cries out to us, “O come to us Wisdom from on High,” let us receive this.  Let us make sure that we receive the right wisdom, truly the Wisdom from on High.” 


In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “Something greater than Solomon is here.”  He is talking about the Wisdom from on High because Solomon first received the Wisdom from on High, but after some period of time in his life, towards the end of his life, he began to reject the wisdom from God and began to receive the wisdom of the world.   This is why Jesus said, “Something greater than Solomon is here,” because Christ never turned His back on God’s wisdom.  He was Wisdom from God so He could say, “The wisdom of God is here far greater than Solomon.”


As we approach the Season of Christmas, the glorious time of remembering that Emmanuel is with us, and wisdom of God is with us, let us remember that indeed, it is with us. We should make sure that we apprehend the right wisdom – the Wisdom from on High.  This is what has been given to us, revealed to us Spirit that we are to walk in.  It is not hard to apprehend, but we simply listen to the Spirit. Listen to the right voice that we can receive the Wisdom from on High that comes to us – Jesus Christ our Savior.

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