Advent, in its earliest forms from the 4th century, centered around preparing for the celebration of Christ’s first coming and also preparation for his anticipated second coming. By joining these two appearances of Jesus in a month of reflection the church gives us a snapshot of the Christian life. The birth of the God-Man brings hope for all that was lost in Eden. It reveals the unparalleled love of God for His creation, humankind. It echoes the promise of a kingdom to come where the lion and lamb will live in peace with one another.
Looking forward to the second coming of Christ sets our hearts toward our final future. It allows us to see the impermanence of our present condition and the transient nature of the journey of our life. Anticipating Christ’s return encourages a holy life of personal sanctification (Rom. 12:1-2) and strengthens a desire for a life of good works (Eph. 2:8-10).
Advent is hope! Advent is promise! “The best is yet to come” should be an evangel truth in the heart of every Christian. Because of the meaning of Advent our spiritual eyesight has been corrected. Dietrich Bonnhoeffer wrote:
“…And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In this current age of oppression and vast darkness throughout the world, let us pause for the next few weeks and reflect on the hope that Jesus brought to us in Bethlehem. Let us anticipate with joy Christ’s second coming to bring justice and peace to his created world.
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 7:14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.