Advent: A Time To Rejoice

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Advent is a season of waiting. It is waiting for the coming Messiah, the baby child to be born in a manger, and the hope that the child brings to the world. It is waiting for the Messiah to come again, for God to create a new Heaven and new Earth, for evil and sin to be done away with and for all things to be made new. Advent is a season of waiting; waiting for the promises that God made to redeem and restore the creation to be fulfilled. While waiting can sometimes lead to lamenting that the world is not yet redeemed, Advent is also a time of joy. Advent is a reminder that the Messiah did come and his coming should bring joy. Advent is a reminder that God did not abandon the creation, but that God acted in a way to restore the fortunes of the people.

Consider the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 126:

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy: then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. (Psalm 126:1-3)

Psalm 126 is one of the Psalms of Ascent, probably composed in the times after the Babylonian exile and sung as worshipers approached the temple to bring sacrifices or celebrate the feast days. It was written in response to God replanting Israel in the land. When the Lord restored the fortunes, we were like those who dream and our mouths were filled with laughter and joy, claims the psalmist. And as we approach to worship we are reminded that the Lord has done great things for us.

Admittedly, this Psalm is not a messianic psalm or a prophecy of the birth of the Christ child. Yet, this Psalm is a reading in the lectionary schedule for Advent. Because of that it becomes a declaration of joy for those of us who believe in the nativity story. It is a reminder that God has done great things and we have much to be thankful for.

Advent is a time to rejoice because it reminds us that God has not abandoned the people. Advent is a time to rejoice because God has been active in the mission to redeem and restore the creation. Advent is a time to rejoice because it reminds us that the broken relationship that was the result of the sin in the garden did not quench God’s desire to share love with the creation, but instead, God was willing to risk everything and become completely vulnerable in order to restore what was lost. Advent is a time to rejoice because even when it appeared that God had been silent in the centuries following the closing pages of the Old Testament, God broke the silence in the most history changing way possible, God came in the flesh to make all things new. It is because of this that we rejoice.

When we consider our lives now, and our honest with our situation, we must admit we have much to be thankful for. Even if life is currently hard, we have much to be thankful for. Even if 2014 has been the worst year ever, we have much to be thankful for. The Advent season reminds us that two thousand years ago God did not abandon the creation, but instead sent the Christ child to make all things new. And just as the angels, shepherds, and magi rejoiced at the birth, we too can rejoice at the birth of the child, because the child brings hope to the world. The Advent season reminds us that no matter how difficult and stressful life is now, God will not abandon us. Just as God fulfilled the prophecies of the birth of the Messiah, God will fulfill the prophecies of the new Heaven and new Earth. God will return and restore the creation to its rightful place. There is hope, so we can rejoice.

So today, as we celebrate the season of Advent, may we join our voices with the voices of the Psalmist and declare: When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy: then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. (Psalm 126:1-3)

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