I love the season of Advent. For several years I overlooked it’s deep meaning and spirit. The season goes against most things of our culture… it should slow us, prepare us, allow for longing and anticipation.
Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The entire season is the celebration of the coming birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000+ year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.
In this focus on past and future Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a collective group, as they affirm that Christ has come – That He is present in the world today, and that He will come again. It also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance!
It is that hope, though faint at times, that God brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world.
This peace, justice, and righteousness does not look like we think it should.
Emmanuel. God with us. God in us.