The General Missionary Department now has a new Christmas offering for missions! This offering replaces the February Sacrifice offering, and it has been named the Advent Offering. This December will be our first Advent Offering, but actually our loving heavenly Father gave the very first Advent offering there in Bethlehem when the Word became flesh and came to dwell among us. God so loved this world that He gave us Jesus as His Advent offering. In 2 Cor.9:15 Paul called this a gift too wonderful for words. God's gift to us has forever made the Advent season a time for giving to those that we love such as our family and friends and to those in need. God wants us to give so we can share the joy that He experienced when He sent us His Son.
So what is an advent anyhow? Webster defines it as a coming or an arrival. During this beautiful season of the year we celebrate the fact that our wonderful Lord came to provide the awesome sacrifice for our sin. He came not to live, but to die for us. However, there's another advent that we need to celebrate. During this advent season we also need to remember and to celebrate the fact that our risen Lord is truly coming again. Scripture tells us that our Lord will return at a time when He is not expected. Wouldn't it be something if He returned on the day we celebrate as His birthday?
We celebrate the Advent Season in many ways such as Christmas concerts, Christmas plays, giving to family and friends and giving to those in need through programs such as Operation Christmas Child. What a wonderful way to celebrate our Savior's birth! However, why not celebrate the fact that Jesus came and that He is coming again by investing in the task of taking this good news to those who still have not heard it? In December, we will send out the only appeal letter that our department sends out annually. We depend on this offering to cover about 20 percent of the operating budget of our department and use 20 percent of this offering to provide our Disaster Relief Fund. The decrease in the number of our missionaries forces us to depend even more on this offering. We have not suggested a specific day that our churches should receive this offering as we did with the February Sacrifice offering because Advent is not a day, it is a season. Thus our churches will select their own time for receiving this offering during the Christmas season.
May our wonderful Lord grant you and yours a spirit-filled Christmas as you celebrate the fact that Jesus came and is coming again. Please join me in praying for God's blessing on this offering.