Seasons of longing: Advent and God at work
Advent is a busy and special season for our local churches. We feel excitement as we celebrate God’s incarnate love in Jesus Christ and see so many congregants engaged in outreaches, special presentations, and fresh expressions of generosity.
Advent is also a moment of intensity as we fashion our services and projects for an increase in guests and remind our members of the divine humility and love we see in the nativity. It is an opportunity for discipleship as we equip our congregations for an integrated life, connecting Sunday faith and Monday work. Advent unveils God the worker in new ways. Connecting the profound theology of Immanuel (God with us) with everyday work will help us mature in our faith and grow in our capacity to love and serve others.
As Christians, we celebrate the good works of the creator, from the macro and microcosmos to the intricacies of the human person being shaped in their mother’s womb (Psalms 19 and139). Prophets and leaders reminded Israel to remember the works of the Lord (Isaiah 40-43). Christians focus on the central work of Jesus: his death on the cross and victorious resurrection (1 Cor 15).
Three ways Advent shows us God’s work
The Advent story reveals three further attributes of God’s work that can help us in ours.
The first is God’s motivation for the incarnation: love. This agape disposition of desiring the highest good for others and sacrificially laboring for their welfare is the foundation for all of God’s works (John 3:16). As we work, whether at home, the office, or with our hands, do we love our colleagues and customers, even the nasty ones? God does. Do we offer our labor as worship, or are we merely getting by until the weekend (Col 3:17-24)?
The second attribute is humility. As Justin Buzzard said, humility is the one thing God honors. In contrast, pride brings divine resistance! As we go about our work, are we celebrating others, helping advance the mission apart from our position, and seeking God’s glory and the good of others? Humility is not self-hatred; it is sober reflection on ourselves and warm affection for others (Rom 12:3-8).
God’s Advent work teaches us a third lesson for our daily duties: The Lord loves using all kinds of beautiful and broken people to accomplish his work in the world. Matthew and Luke’s nativity narratives display humble women, poor shepherds, aged prayer warriors, and an overwhelmed couple willing to accept the Lord’s word in the midst of familial and social misunderstanding (Matt 1-2; Luke 1-2). Can we see past cultural, economic, and social status and learn from anyone, even helping others realize their potential? It takes many affirmations for friends to overcome the rejections they often experience. Expressing hope and finding the good in others is a gift to the workplace.
Love, humility, and a willingness to learn from anyone and help everyone will infuse our work with adventure and meaning, even as we wrestle with boredom, repetition, imperfect systems, and selfish people. God is the first worker (Gen 1-2; Ps 33) and he models actions and attitudes worthy of our aspirations. Practically, we can live out these principles as we pray for others, model good teamwork, and encourage all around us.Topics: Christian Life, Church and Ministry, Theology of Work