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Good News. Great Joy. All Peoples.

Good News. Great Joy. All Peoples.
By Jeremy Linneman • Issue #11 • View online
The Advent Issue.

We’ve waited all year, and it’s finally here: Happy Advent!
Advent is the beginning of the church year—the season of four Sundays leading up to Christmas. And so I can also say: Happy New Year!
I love Advent because it’s a collision of two worlds: Our dark, broken, tired world, and the world of our Father, of Jesus the eternal Son, of the Holy Spirit—a world of life without lack. 
In this issue, I want to offer you some fresh, good soil for your Advent season.
Expectation
Advent is the season of expectation: Israel waited for thousands of years before God sent the Messiah to save them, and for over 400 years, Israel had no prophets, no great kings, no brave warriors, no revival, no Scripture… Just waiting.
Israel spent more time waiting between the Old and New Testaments than our country has even existed.
Into this darkness, a Light shines. The old prophet Isaiah wrote:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)
That phrase “deep darkness” is original to Isaiah: He takes two Hebrew words, “darkness” and “death,” and crams them into a new phrase. It can also be translated as “death shadow.” Literally, upon those living in the shadow of death, a Light has dawned.
Fulfillment
After the four Sundays of Advent, the Church recognizes two full weeks to celebrate Christmas—the fulfillment of God’s promises. Two weeks of Christmas, not a single day, allows us to fully appreciate and celebrate God’s sending of his own Son to rescue us. If you had waited 400+ years for something, you think a single day is going to be enough? 
I believe it’s Richard Rohr who has written, “Christians know how to celebrate for a moment; we don’t know how to sustain a celebration.” Advent teaches us to cultivate a long expectation in the same direction, and Christmas offers us a season to sustain a long celebration.
Of course, Christmas is so commercialized in our country, it often feels like Christmas is the season the runs from Black Friday to Christmas Day, and then we pull down the lights, remove the ornaments, shake out the dead tree, and box up the decorations. Instead, what would it look like this year to focus your December on waiting and December 25th through January 4th on celebration. All has been fulfilled. Our king has come!
I love the Luke 2 narrative more than any other: The shepherds are out in the fields in the deep darkness, the death shadow of night, when an angel appears. (And I always hear the reading in the youthful voice of Linus in Charlie Brown’s Christmas movie.)
Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:11)
And suddenly, one angel isn’t hardly enough, and a whole hosts of angels appear. The heavenly choir takes a deep breath and sings aloud:
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests! (Luke 2:14)
Indeed, all has been fulfilled. Good News: A child is born, our King has come, our long-awaited salvation has been born. Great Joy: True joy is found here in this God-Child; the second fruit of the Holy Spirit will rest too on all those who belong to this Jesus. All Peoples: What began as a promise to Israel is now extended to every tongue, tribe, and nations. Let all people hear the good news: Your great joy has arrived!
New Life
After the expectation of Advent and the fulfillment of Christmas, the Church enters the season of Epiphany—which is the time of manifesting new life or proclaiming the Good News of Christmas.
Epiphany Sunday is January 5th this year, and the season of Epiphany takes us to Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent in February. (Epiphany Sunday is usually marked with a feast. Why don’t we feast this much anymore?!)
This Christmas moment is no longer just a moment; it’s a commission, a way of life. We are sent by this grown-up Jesus into all the world to announce the Good News / Great Joy of Christianity.
The Posture of Advent
The posture of Advent is expectation. But we take this posture with the full knowledge of fulfillment and new life. (We know how the story ends!)
Each year, we can find ourselves like Israel in the OT before the birth of Christ. Faithful, but going through the motions. We need God to break through. In Advent, we recognize our dryness and make rooms in our hearts for Christ. It’s a season of waiting and expectation. Come Lord. That’s what the word “advent” means: “arrival” or “coming.” It means: “God has come into our world.” And expectantly: God is coming again
This Advent, consider these questions: 
Where has God called you to wait? Where does he have you in a season of expectation?
Where do you feel like you’re in the wilderness—lacking direction, warmth, light? 
Perhaps you’ve been praying for something all year, but after eleven months, you’ve given up the prayer. This Advent, take it up again.
What are you asking God to do in your life, in your church, and in your city?
Come Lord Jesus.
Three Good Reads: Advent Edition
I have two favorite Advent devotionals, and one recommendation for children.
Watch for the Light contains Advent readings from Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Annie Dillard, CS Lewis, and many other fantastic spiritual writers. You may not love every single reading, but if you can only have one Advent devo, this is it. (Sorry to the four million Advent devotionals of the last decade.)
Of all these newer Advent books, Russ Ramsey’s The Advent of the Lamb of God is my favorite. Ramsey is a great writer, thoroughly Christ-centered, and his reflections and storytelling will keep you engaged all season.
Lastly, for children, Jessie purchased these Advent Conversation Cards from Kids Read Truth, and they are beautiful, simple, and excellent. It offers you a great five-minute talking point for your kiddos.
Fidelity Sports: 3 Hot Takes
Here at Fidelity Sports, we try to avoid hot takes. We provide deep, thoughtful, nuanced cultural commentary on the world of sports. But this holiday season, to heck with it, how about a platter of hot takes and predictions?
Hot take #1: The Chiefs won’t lose again this season.
We’re 8-4, but we’re rolling with two strong wins, Mahomes back, and an O-line getting healthy. We’ll win in New England this Sunday, sweep the AFC, and beat the Seahawks/49ers/Packers/etc. in the Super Bowl. (I originally picked the Eagles to lose to the Chiefs, but that’s not looking great right now.)
Hot take #2: We’ve seen the last of Alabama’s and New England’s dominance.
Gone are the days of Alabama being a perennial top 2 team. They’re currently ranked, what, 12th? I’m predicting their run is over, Saban will retire this offseason or next, and they’ll become a middling SEC team. Similarly, and this isn’t the hottest take right now, both Belichek and Brady will retire this February, and the Patriots will be a 2-14 team for the next forty years.
Hot take #3: James Harden is not a top ten NBA player.
Recently, some moron at ESPN wrote that Harden is the best offensive player since His Airness. This is ridiculous. Yes, he’s scoring 39 points per, but in the most inefficient way possible. Less than 45 percent from the field, less than 35 percent from 3, and this isn’t a regression, he’s simply putting up more of his usual ugly volume stats. And before you go and compare him to my brother from another mother, Kobe Bryant, may-his-career-RIP, remember that Kobe was an annual defensive POY candidate and first-team all-defender, while the Beard is a liability in half of basketball. I can think of ten NBA players I’d take before Harden right now. I’ll prove it: Giannis, Steph, Kawhi, KD, Bron, AD, Jokic, Luka, PG3, Embiid, Dame, and Kyrie, and every current NBA player who went to Mizzou. (Speaking of Mizzou…)
Hot take #4: Mizzou makes a HUGE hire for its football program.
Coach Odom, who I really liked, was fired after going 25-25 in four seasons at Ole Mizzou. There are no clear frontrunners for the position, and as many as 15-20 coaches are being floated. Most options seem to be successful mid-major coaches, but recent reports are that the decision-makers are not excited about this group. Similarly, my impression from the current athletic administration is that they want a big, splashy hire, especially with all the SEC money they’ve dumped into the program recently. So who is this out-of-the-box splashy candidates? I’m not saying I like it. In fact, I almost certainly don’t. But here’s my guess: The Lane Train rolls into Columbia. Kiffin checks all the boxes—head coaching experience, SEC experience, recruiting, offense-minded, splashy. This is about to get interesting.
Benediction
From a newish worship song, “Grace Alone,” the beautiful reminder of Jesus’s willing sacrifice in coming to earth:
You left your home to seek out the lost
You knew the great and terrible cost
But Jesus, your face was set…

Thanks for reading GOOD SOIL. See you again in two weeks.
JSL

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Jeremy Linneman

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