Kenneth L. Samuel
"But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day," says the Lord. "I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, "You should know the Lord." For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already," says the Lord. "And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins." - Jeremiah 31:33-34
One of the hallmarks of Christian Protestantism is the doctrine of universal priesthood—the notion that every believer has equal access to the grace and salvation of God.
The shift, however, from priestly intermediary to immediate personal access to the divine did not originate with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century. It was at the heart of Jeremiah's announcement of the new covenant that God would make with Israel. According to this new covenant, the assurance of forgiveness, reconciliation and right standing with God would no longer be the function of a certain class of believers. The full grace and mercy of God would be made available not just to clergy, but to whosoever will. There would be no need for salvation to be transmitted from person to person, because each person would know and each person would experience the love of God for him or herself. Indeed, "the glory of the Lord would be revealed and all flesh would see it together."
The essence of Advent is the celebration of God's presence and peace that each of us is invited to host in our hearts. It's a celebration of the freedom we have to seek and to find God along the corridors of our own conscience. It's a celebration of the grace and goodness of God that has not only been revealed to us, but revealed in us. It's a celebration of the peace that only comes with a personal experience of redemption and a personal acceptance of forgiveness and a personal awareness of God's power to save.
Advent just isn't advent, unless we make it personal.
Hallelujah! Christ has come. And he brings not just joy to the world; he brings satisfaction to my soul! Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.