Advent- It would be boneheaded of me to start an advent book working through the alphabet and not start with Advent. If you would indulge me, consider this entry a preface and introduction of what will be a collection of 26 devotionals, which in my world really means essays or monologues. Don’t get me wrong, Scripture must be an important part of the discussion, but these passages will be embedded in commentary. I’m sure that already you’re shouting at me something like ‘Enough with the boring “this is what I want to do with this” junk’….
In Christian antiquity, the season of Advent was a time set aside before Christmas, similar to lent before Easter. It was a time when the past and the future met in the present. In our time, this time of reflection has been secularized into a materialistic excitement in anticipation for getting gifts and being with family. While these things can be good, we are missing out on the whole point of Advent and frankly Christmas itself. Even in our Christian traditions surrounding the holiday, I believe we’ve missed the mark. So then, what is the mark that we’ve missed?
The Latin root of the word “advent” literally means “coming”. When it’s used with the word “Christmas”, we quickly see the obvious, but seeing the obvious is not what these essays are for. Earlier, I alluded to the past and future meeting and now is the time to unpack that. Christmas is the holiday Christians remember the “advent” of Christ, the first advent, I should say, but do we venerate Him merely on the same level as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or is there more? We celebrate His birth often as if it were the beginning of the story and not the beginning of the climax. The only reason it is apt to celebrate Christmas is because of what followed that birth.
I find that, in the story about Christ, each event meaningfully informs the next event. His birth would lose meaning if not for His ministry, His ministry if not for His death, and His death if not for His resurrection. But the story doesn’t end there or even with His ascension. Christ will have a Second Advent and indeed that Advent is what the season brings to remembrance. It ties the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ (past) to the future coming. It is a time of reflection on what Christ did as well as what He’s promised He would do.
Jesus says in John 14:2-3 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I wouldn’t have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (NKJV)
1 Thes 4:16-18 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (NKJV)
For your contemplation this advent season, I ask these questions: Are you ready for Christ’s Second Advent? Are you looking for it? If this information is new to you, I’d suggest taking the time to dig into the Scriptures and discover what this Glorious Day will be like.