Cornerstone exists because of Jesus. We are a people who have been transformed by the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has forgiven us and adopted us into his family. Now, we have a whole new life.
Through the gospel, God redeems us, forgives us, and adopts us into his family. The good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection makes each one of us a new creation and gives us a new identity: children of God. This is why we can never think of the church as an organization or a building. The church is actually a family—God’s family, filled with redeemed sinners that are now his children.
Through the gospel, God forgives us, adopts us into his family, and makes us his disciples. This means that the church is not just any family. We are a family formed by God—and sent out with a purpose.
The church is a family that ministers to one another, cares for one another, and builds one another up. Each member of the family is a child of God who is uniquely gifted to bless the family and to be a light in our city.
Just like a vine grows best with a good trellis, our church family grows best with good programs. Our programs and ministries are tailored to support the community and mission God has given us.
"On Christmas morning, we remember that He really will come back, and that we are forever safe with Him as our King."
The Christmas season is an odd time. You probably couldn’t pay a lot of businesses to play Christian music in July. But come December, you’ll hear Silent Night in Starbucks and find a nativity scene in the window at Vons. A relatively secular city seems to relax a bit and doesn’t mind humming the tune to Away in the Manger—but only in December. December 26th, it’s back to business as usual.
Advent gives us a clue as to why it suddenly becomes okay to sing about Jesus. Christmas songs and nativity scenes are all about hope. And everyone can connect with hope.
When we celebrate Advent, we are joining ourselves with humans that lived thousands of years ago. The people of Israel knew God promised them a messiah who would triumph over Satan, sin, and death. Each chapter in their history revealed more about what this messiah would be like: he would crush the head of Satan (Gen 3:15), he would be a better prophet than Moses (Deut 18:15), he would be a better king than David (Isaiah 9:6-7), he would bring a better covenant (Jer 31:31-34).
Living in a broken world, the people were weary. They dealt daily with their own sin, and suffered at the hands of others. The thought of God himself coming to crush Satan, rule justly over their world, and remove the sin from their own hearts created a yearning only Jesus could satisfy. Imagine the moment when Simeon got to hold the newly born Jesus in the temple, saying "“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation (Luke 2:29-30).”
During Advent, we remember the longing of God’s people for so many centuries. They put their hope in the promise of God to send Jesus, and trusted in his goodness as they waited for the light of the world to dawn. As the weeks of Advent pass, we feel the need for Jesus. On Christmas morning, we re-experience God keeping his promises.
Re-experiencing the joy of God sending Jesus the first time reminds us that we still long for Jesus to come again. We still live in a broken world, and we still get weary. While Jesus has saved us and given us a whole new way of life, there will come a time when he returns to make all things new. God has promised his people that Christ will come a second time, and told us what it will be like: he will bring a new heavens and new earth (Rev 21:1), where there will be no more pain because God himself will wipe away every tear from every eye (Rev 21:4)
During Advent, we remember that our hope is still to come—and that God is faithful to his promise. As the weeks of Advent pass, we feel our need for Jesus. On Christmas morning, we remember that He really will come back, and that we are forever safe with Him as our King.
We still live in a broken city, and people in Los Angeles are weary—especially around the holidays. It’s not just the travel and the flurry of family gatherings and turkey dinners. It’s the reality that God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecc 3:11) and this world does not match up. The best family gatherings leave a lingering sense of longing for something greater; the worst highlight how broken things really are. And so for everyone, when O Holy Night comes on the radio, they find themselves singing along about the “night of our dear Savior’s birth”:
Long lay the world,
in sin and error pining
Till He appeared,
and the soul felt it’s worth
The thrill of hope,
this weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks,
a new and glorious morn
The lights, the the trees, the festivities, and the carols, are all about redirecting our hopes to something greater than this broken world and my broken heart. There is a thrill of hope we find only in the birth of the King of kings, who lay thus in lowly manger. In all our trials, he was born to be our friend. He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger. So the next time you hear Silent Night in Starbucks, remember Advent and behold your King. Experience the thrill of Hope. And then his power and glory evermore proclaim—to your own heart and to the weary travelers around us in Los Angeles.
Brian serves the church by overseeing preaching and Sunday morning services at Cornerstone.
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