[#pictureAdvent] December 1: BEGINNING

By Rev. Dr. Kandace Brooks
Senior Pastor, Saint Paul's United Methodist Church
Tallahassee, FL

First, read John 1:1-2

Beginnings are important — we celebrate beginnings

            The beginning of life in birthdays

            The beginning of the marriage covenant in anniversaries

            The beginning of the new year

We remember ‘firsts’ with much more clarity than we do ‘lasts’

            The first step

            The first word

            The first tooth

            The first kiss

There is something that is attractive to humanity about beginnings; and Scripture allows us a glimpse into several important ‘beginnings.’  Right from the start, we read about the beginning, or the creation of the world: “In the beginning God

As we travel through the Old Testament some would say that we come very quickly to the real beginning of the Christmas story when we read about the first sin— the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden — for here the need for a Savior is made evident.  In the story of the Hebrew people we read about the first murder; the first covenant or promise that God makes with His people; the first nation; the first kings, the first Temple — all are important in the larger story of God.

And the story of beginnings continues in the New Testament— the story of Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate.  In fact, in his gospel, John introduces Christ with the same phrase that ushers in creation:

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

The divine gift of Christmas is Emmanuel — God with us — so that we have the opportunity for a new beginning.

Why is it that we love beginnings?  For me, it is because they are filled with potential and promise. A new beginning means that there is more to come; something to look forward to; progress to be made.  In a word, beginnings signify LIFE itself.

Christmas is quite literally a beginning of Biblical proportions, for in the birth of Jesus we are offered a new beginning in our relationship with God.  We are offered a new promise for salvation and a new hope for all humanity.

The ministry of Jesus’ teaching and healing and his ministry of inclusiveness and compassion offer to each and every one of us a new beginning. Jesus is a way to make all things new again —to live our lives here on earth with a new perspective — a Kingdom perspective.

The wonder of an intimate relationship with Christ is that there is no area of life that is hidden. There is no brokenness that He cannot heal. 

Jesus comes precisely into those places where we are least likely to find Him. Jesus comes into the place of darkness (the stable); amid the muck of sin (animals); pierces through the reality of rejection (no room).  Jesus makes his entry into our brokenness and offers the chance for beginning again. 

The place that seems the end can become the beginning. 

Christmas becomes a time, an opportunity to renew a faith that has become scratchy as hay in the manger; or to find faith for the very first time — like the light of a star that pushes back the darkness of night. 

Christmas is a place of beginning again … a chance to return to ‘In the beginning God’ and rewrite our story with Jesus at our side.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1) Where in your life do you need a new beginning? 

  • Relationship?  With spouse, children, parents, self, God?
  • Vocation?  Are you seeking a sense of purpose and fulfillment in that which God has gifted you to do?
  • Self?  Is there a healing within you that needs to take place?  A hardness that needs to be softened?  A behavior that needs to be redirected?

2) What would it look like for you to understand Christmas as a place of beginning again? 

3) What would it look like for you to offer this same gift to others?