Editor's note: "An uncommon Advent: the arrival of a Savior in our lives" is a sampling of biblical meditations composed by members of the Concordia University Ann Arbor and Wisconsin community. It is our prayer that you will take time during the Advent season to read and reflect upon God's Word and await the coming of Jesus with newfound anticipation and zeal through the Holy Spirit.

December 8 – Perfection through Christ rather than our own

Isaiah 24:14-25:12, Obadiah 1-21, 1 John 2:15-29

When we are small, many of us learn that we are lovable and trustworthy. We learn this when we are told of Christ’s transformational love for us. We often experience this firsthand through loving interactions provided to us by parents and others. By watching a community in Christ’s example, we also come to recognize that others are inherently trustworthy and lovable. Some of us; however, by no fault of own, did not have these models or learn these lessons as kids. The harmful effects of trauma in childhood and adverse life experiences linger. As a result, in our adult lives, we may not know how to love ourselves and others because we have never experienced ourselves as being lovable. This is when the feeling of shame comes like a thief in the night to haunt us.

Shame is a strangling feeling that occurs when our imperfections are made to be our singular focus and something we alone must shoulder. Perhaps we have made a mistake, had an embarrassing moment, or maybe we felt we did not live up to our full opportunity or potential. Shame is a lie that worms around in our hearts, telling us that because we are not perfect, we will always be defective and fall short. Christ’s grace enables us to see our identity in Him rather than forever be lacking or measuring up short on our own. When we get to know Jesus and His perfect love, we realize that imperfection apart from Him is certain, just as our completeness and perfection through salvation is assured only through Him, as Jesus alone is perfect.

This Advent season, I find myself reflecting on God’s love as revealed in His Word. Jesus died for all people, thus showing that every person is lovable and of value to God. Jesus is good and trustworthy, and His grace equips us with those qualities as well. Isaiah 25:7-8 reads,And he will swallow up on this mountain, the covering that is cast of all peoples the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. May the gift of Jesus give you peace and wipe away your tears of shortcoming and shame this Advent season, whether you are hearing that for the first time or being reminded of it anew.

Ali Ross is as the director of counseling and psychological services on the Ann Arbor campus and has served Concordia since 2017. View a full schedule of “An uncommon Advent” readings here.

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