For the North End Community Ministry / food pantry visit or call (616) 454-1097.

We meet for worship at 214 Spencer Street NE. Directions.
Service begins Sundays at 10:00AM.


This Sunday we will light the fourth candle of Advent—the candle of love. We’ve lit the candle of hope, the candle of peace, and the candle of joy. Advent is a time of waiting. Just as God’s people waited for many years for the coming of the Messiah, so we wait for his return, but we wait in hope and we wait in peace and we wait in joy. We also wait in love.

Our Advent reading this Sunday is from Psalm 89. In this psalm the author, Ethan the Ezrahite, sings of God’s steadfast love, but he does so in lament. Our reading focuses on God’s covenant with David. The psalm declares there is no one like the Lord, for even the most powerful angels stand in awe of him and his power. Much of the psalm is praise to the Lord for his greatness and his faithfulness to David and the promises he made to David.

In his covenant with David he promised him an everlasting throne and offspring to sit on it. For years, even as the northern kingdom had various dynasties, the kingdom of Judah had a descendant of David on the throne in Jerusalem. Then Babylon changed that. The Babylonians came in and deposed the king and took him to Babylon in chains. Eventually the city and the temple were completely destroyed and the people taken into exile. God, the one who is faithful to David and his covenant with David, swears David’s “offspring shall endure forever” (Psalm 89:36). Then the psalm takes a darker turn.

But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed. You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust. You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins. All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice. You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle. You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground. You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame. Selah

How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah

Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David? Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations,
with which your enemies mock, O LORD, with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed.

Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.”

Psalm 89:38–52 ESV

The psalmist, after praising the Lord for his steadfast love and faithfulness, cries out asking God where is his faithfulness. He laments the current state of his city and his people, yet he does so in faith. Here we see true faith. The psalmist declares the Lord’s faithfulness even as he laments the apparent lack of evidence of his faithfulness. It is as the man said to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

This psalm highlights the tension in which we all live. Yes, we have the present reality of salvation, yet we will struggle with sin. Yes, we have the present reality of eternal life, yet we all face our mortality. Yes, we have the present reality of God’s peace, yet we all endure chaos and suffering. After praising the Lord for his very real and very present faithfulness, the psalm asks where the evidence is. It ends without an answer yet ends in faith: “Blessed be the LORD forever!”

The truth is that as we wait for the Lord’s return, as we long for his second coming, we do so in hope and in peace and in joy even though our circumstances would suggest otherwise. So much of life does not feel hopeful. So much of life seems the very opposite of peace. So much of life seeks to rob us of joy. It cannot, however, rob us of love. Though his “servants are mocked” and though they suffer, his love is as steadfast as it has ever been. What the psalmist longed to see we ourselves have seen: the evidence of his steadfast love.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:1–8 ESV

Here Paul declares the very real peace we have with God through Jesus. We rejoice—we experience real joy in the midst of our sufferings. The outcome of this is God is working to produce in us hope, and hope, he says, does not put us to shame for it will produce exactly what it promises, for we have his Spirit in us. All of this is the evidence the psalmist was looking for. God shows us his steadfast love, his faithfulness to his covenant, for while we were still sinners, David’s true Offspring, God’s eternal King, died for us. It didn’t end there, of course, for Christ is risen from the dead.

All of life is Advent—that time of waiting for the coming of the Lord. All of life is that in-between time, the time of already/not yet. We already have hope and peace and joy and love, yet we do not have it in its fullness. That is coming, for he is coming. When he comes he will bring with him all the promises of God. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The season of Advent reminds us that it is only a matter of time. We, like the psalmist, often find ourselves wondering where the evidence is for God’s faithfulness and his love. It is there, in Christ, and is a present reality. Sometimes life can overwhelm our vision and we cannot see it, however. It is there. As Christmas draws closer we are reminded that God became one of us. He took on human form for a very specific purpose: that he might enter into our suffering and then endure the truest suffering for us, that we might be reconciled to God.

God shows his love for us, even in our suffering and pain, even in our disappointment and lament, even in the difficulties of this world, for while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Because he died for us, we know he will come again for us. When he comes again, he will bring the fullness of our salvation and the end of the story will be upon us and the psalmist will have the answers to his questions:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:1–5 ESV

These words are trustworthy and true for the one who speaks them is trustworthy and true. His words are the very evidence we need. During Advent we wait in love—his love. Too often we associate Christmas with the fleeting feelings of love. Whether “Christmas” music that is overly sentimental and primarily about relationships or “Christmas” movies, our culture tends to equate “the Christmas spirit” with a feeling. God has given us so much more than a fleeting feeling. He has demonstrated his love with a concrete act, and will follow up that specific demonstration of his love with the fullness of it when he comes.

The season of Advent summarizes our hopes and dreams and longings the way John himself ended the book of Revelation: “Come, Lord Jesus!”