As we move into the season of Advent, it might be worthwhile to re-visit the reason we go through this particular season before Christmas. In Latin, adventus means a “coming, approach, or arrival”. In our Christian context, in Advent we wait for the coming, approach, or arrival of Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity: the Messiah who has come to redeem, forgive, and judge.
But wait — that is not all — there are two Advents. The first Advent was the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem. The second Advent is yet to come. On some day in the future, we will see the Son of Man arriving (adventus) in glory (Mk. 14:62) to judge the world and to make all things new. Both arrivals bring us salvation in their own way. Salvation is the great hope we have as Christians; but these arrivals — these advents — also evoke in us great awe of the Creator who speaks creation into being while redeeming and remaking it by His will.
If you’re like me, this particular Advent finds you deeply concerned about the state of our society. In a way, we can be thankful because this disconcerting feeling is the norm in most of the rest of the world. As Christianity has receded from the shores of the West, much of our common language and experience has withered, too. We are left with a multitude of voices sunk deep in misunderstanding, in caricature, and in virtue signaling. Social media amplifies these voices — often in very dark ways.
Darkness and Light
In our Advent collect (the prayer we say together during worship), we say the following: “Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life…” The images come from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 13:12) — a verse about which I will preach this Sunday.
Sometimes it takes darkness, confusion, and an inability to control one’s surroundings to cause one to look outside of oneself for aid, help, and hope. When one gets to that point, one is finally seeing things as they are. And for many, to see things as they are means that there is an absence of hope. But not for us. Not for Christians who grasp the meaning of Advent.
We have been redeemed, forgiven, and loved in our unloveliness. We have also been promised the Jesus will return to remake this world into its original intention and to wipe every tear from our eye (Rev. 21:4). So cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Your redemption is at hand.