maranatha: the heart of advent, a cry of love.

/ ad∙vent / noun the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. (christian theology) the coming or second coming of Christ.

This season is always my favorite time of year, but with the theme of “maranatha” framing our year, the idea of Advent feels a little richer this time around. This Aramaic word represents a dynamic meaning that spans time. It can mean a past sense of “our Lord has come,” a present invitation for Him to dwell with “Lord, come,” and a future declaration of “our Lord is coming!” What better way to sum up the season of Advent than with this concept and celebrate the One who came, Immanuel with us, and the coming Messiah?

Living in Israel and surrounded by a community that is really in tune with Jewish history and traditions, we’ve definitely had the conversation about how it’s more likely that Yeshua was conceived in December rather than born in December. There is lengthy historical, scriptural, and prophetic reasoning for this, but essentially this puts Yeshua’s birth in September- the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot). While I do not wish to say it’s definitely one way or the other when the Bible doesn’t say specifically say, it does seem like a valid and very beautiful idea that the Father would send His son to “tabernacle among us” on the Feasts of Tabernacles (John 1:14). With God’s radical intentionality in mind (Jesus’ death happening over Passover, etc), it is not far-fetched to believe that He would be so strategic with Yeshua’s birth.

Regardless of the exact time of our beloved Messiah’s birth, I love any extra reminder to slow down, spend more time with family, and engage the Holy Spirit in deeper ways. If western culture wants to choose this month to cultivate love, joy, hope, and peace with music, family time, and lights- I’m in. And I want to do so intentionally and with the knowledge that these good things, and the ultimate gift of Yeshua, come from our loving Father of lights (James 1:17). Because regardless of the month of Yeshua’s birth, we know He came to us, and it’s worth celebrating.

So this first week of Advent, I’m taking the time to remember the One who came. The Word who put on flesh and tabernacled among humanity (John 1:14-15). The One who embodied Love and reminded us what the purpose of life is- to love God fully and love people deeply (1 John 4:8, 16 and Matthew 22:34-40). The Son of God and Son of Man who knew He could only ask us to love fully and deeply because He first loved us to the fullest and deepest extent (1 John 4:19). Yeshua, the very image of the invisible God, stepped down from heaven, gave up the rights of His divinity, wrapped Himself in a human body, and came to us (Colossians 1:15-20). What radical love is this that He gave up His life for the world (John 15:13 & Luke 23)?

It’s extravagant, that’s for sure.

It’s a love that takes intentionality to receive. In today’s world of misconstrued ideas of love & relationships, trauma & depression from an overload of information, and rampant fatherlessness, we have entire generations who don’t know what love is- or who He is- and how to respond in a healthy way. What does it mean to be loved by a Father? What does it mean that Jesus literally gave up His life for ours? The ability to comprehend these realities so foreign to our flesh and culture-conditioned minds takes significant time spent with Him and choosing to believe Him. It takes the Spirit of God giving us hearts of flesh, His renewal of our minds with Truth, and His revelation of the character and nature of God (Ezekiel 11:14-21, Romans 12:2, John 16:13, 1 Cor. 2:10). May we find the freedom with Holy Spirit to engage this holy pursuit of believing that Jesus really is who He says He is, and He really loves us like He says He does (John 6:29). 

It’s a love that demands a response. When you spend time with Love, it inspires a response. If you don’t trust Him and remain unhealed, you will respond out of your soul wounds and push Him away. If you trust Him and receive healing, you will draw near to Him and learn to love Him back. Mary of Bethany knew Jesus well and spent time with Him; He delighted in her and declared that she had chosen the one thing that wouldn’t be taken away (Luke 10:41-42). When she got to the point of realizing who He was & saw Him rightly, she responded in extravagant worship to His extravagant love (Matthew 26:6-13). She broke an alabaster jar and anointed Jesus with expensive perfume in a radical display of affection that declared Jesus’ worth to Him & everyone around them (John 12:1-8). May we be free to respond to His extravagant love with extravagant displays of love ourselves in worship and time spent with Him.

It’s a love that empowers and compels and grows; it must be shared! Love is a force that requires an object of its affection; there has to be a receiving party. Love, in accordance with its very essence, always gives (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Once we’ve received His perfect love and have learned from the Holy Spirit how to respond rightly- loving others follows pretty naturally, whether it’s shown in something as simple as a smile to a stranger or as deep as taking the time to know family & friends well enough to love them with the various love languages. Both require effort, intentionality, faithfulness, and vulnerability and have powerful effects. May we be free from the expectations of performance and accepted requirements of survival in society to fully engage people relationally as we live life knowing that’s what God intended all along (Genesis 1:26-31, 1 John 1:3, & John 17:20-24).

As we enter this season of remembering the Advent of our wonderful Messiah on the earth, may we take time to intentionally reflect on what may prove to be some challenging questions: What is holding me back from receiving the fullness of God’s love? Is there anything hindering me from rightly responding in extravagant love and worship to Him? Am I free to love those around me with deep and whole love, without the expectation of receiving anything in return?

In remembering the One who came, may we be marked by His intentionality, vulnerability, and deep love- to the point of allowing our souls to be moved and respond by freely loving Him.

Happy Advent, friends. Let’s adore Him together.

Father, thank you for sending Jesus. Yeshua, thank you for humbling yourself to come in the form of a baby, living a perfect life, and to the point of death on a cross. The extravagant love You displayed then and continue to pour out now is beautiful, and I am so grateful. Holy Spirit, thank you for revealing Jesus. Only You know the deep things of God; give me the eyes to see and ears to hear Him this season. Reveal any place in my soul where I’m believing lies and hindering my heart from receiving the full love of God. Help me to receive and then love Jesus rightly in return. Help me to love Jesus like the Father loves Jesus (Jn 17:26). And show me how to love those around me in this special season. In Yeshua’s name.

if you have an extra moment:

read: Luke 2 & John 15:1-17 to remind yourself of the One who came in love and to demonstrate the greatest love in the universe.

article 1 and article 2 for a Messianic Jewish perspective on the birth of Yeshua during Sukkot, along with article 3 and article 4 for a Gentile Christian perspectiveplease note that since the Bible does not give an explicit date this is merely a perspective. I’m linking these for the purpose of getting a deeper sense of an alternative perspective that we’ve heard a lot in the Messianic community here in Jerusalem.

listen: Extravagant + Spontaneous by MBL Worship & O Come Let Us Adore Him + Adoration + My Soul Sings by Upperroom

2 responses to “maranatha: the heart of advent, a cry of love.”

  1. Beautiful. It is so sweet to lean into this season and the goodness of God!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. elayne montgomery Avatar
    elayne montgomery

    Such a good word!❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

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