It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
We are entering my favorite time of year. It’s my favorite season to preach through. It’s the season of the year that does the best job of reorienting my life and perspective.
No, it’s not Christmas. Oh, I like Christmas. I enjoy singing the songs. I enjoy putting up the Christmas tree. I enjoy family traditions, and sharing wonderful memories with my children. But it’s not Christmas that gets me excited. It’s advent.
Advent is a time of expectant waiting. It is an expectant waiting for the nativity and the birth of Jesus. It is also an expectant waiting of the Second Coming; the parousia or the new creation, when the world is once again made right. It is a time of hope; hope in what the world can be. Hope that the future will be better than the present or the past. It’s a time of joy; joy that Christ has come, and Christ is coming. “I bring you good news of great joy.” It is a time of love; for God so loved the world that God came to make the world right. It is a time of peace; peace has come between God and humanity. Peace is available between those who are against each other. If there is one thing that unites us, it is the truth of Jesus.
Advent is a time of expectant waiting that the world will be made right again. That the new creation will come. That God is still in control of the story of the world and God is orchestrating the story to a good ending.
It is the expectant waiting that makes this time of year my favorite. It always seems to come at just the right time, when life has been beating me down, when I’m starting to lose focus, and it reorients me to the true story of the year. As I wait for Christmas I await the coming of the Messiah, and I know that just as Christ came in the flesh in a manger in Bethlehem, Christ will come again to usher in the new creation.
This is absolutely my favorite time of year. It hasn’t always been my favorite time of year. I didn’t celebrate Advent, or even Christmas, when I was growing up. I didn’t understand the rich history or the true hope of the season. I’m not upset about this truth. I don’t feel cheated. In fact, it may be the very reason it is now my favorite season. I came to Advent later in life. I came to Advent at a time when I needed a new hope for the future. I started immersing myself in Advent during the very years when I felt lost in the wilderness. I needed hope. I needed reminded of God’s good story and faithfulness. I needed a reason to believe. Advent provided me a new reality.
It is the hope and anticipation of the coming of Christ that helps to reorient my story. As I count down the days of Christmas with my children, the anticipation builds. Yes, in some ways we are counting down to opening presents and celebrating with family. But even more so we are counting down the days to celebration; as we remember and celebrate the birth of Christ. As we celebrate that God did not abandon us to our brokenness and sin. Instead, God took on flesh and moved into the neighborhood. God became one of us, so that God could redeem us. We remember this story with the birth of Christ; and all the hope that comes with the birth of every baby that is born. A future waiting to be explored.
But it’s not just the anticipation of the birth of Christ that we hope for; it’s the anticipation that Christ will come again. It’s the reminder that Good News has come into the world; Christ became flesh. If good news came once, it will come again. There is coming a day when the world will be made right. There is coming a day when the new creation will be ushered into reality. There is coming a day when evil will be cast into the sea. Hope in this good future allows us to live today with joy and love. Hope in this good future allows us to see the tragedies around us and not become dismayed. Hope in this good future allows us to remain positive and seek good; Christ will come again.
This hope, this expectant waiting, helps to reorient my life. When my life is in a funk, when happiness and joy are missing, it is an expectant waiting that reminds me the new creation is coming. When evil seems to be winning, it is expectant waiting that reminds me that evil will not triumph; God’s good future is assured. When depression, heartache, and burnout come, it is expectant waiting that reorients life; pointing us to a good future.
Advent. Expectant Waiting. Hope. Peace. Love. Joy.
May these realities be the focus of our time and dreams. May we find strength in the reality of Advent. Christ has come and Christ is coming. Praise God.