You keep us waiting. You, the God of all time, Want us to wait. For the right time in which to discover Who we are, where we are to go, Who will be with us, and what we must do. So thank you … for the waiting time – John Bell
We are entering the season of Advent, which begins the Christian year. Advent comes from the Latin and means “coming.” During Advent, Christians have, historically, taken the four Sundays before Christmas to dwell on the longing of our hearts for Christ’s return to make all things new.
Advent does not prepare us for Christmas, but calls us to focus on the uneasiness of this present world and our need for Jesus. Advent confronts the consumerism that fills the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to remind us that we cannot be satisfied with this world. Advent reminds us that our best efforts to create utopias will not work and we need a better King.
Advent calls us to hope in the face of sadness, injustice, death, infertility, hatred, sin, greed, infidelity and dysfunction and tells us to look to the suffering God who will wipe away our tears. Advent supplies the answers we cannot when the Prophets tell us “Emmanuel.” God will be with us. Advent promises the good government at which humanity grasps when Isaiah says, “the government will be upon his shoulders” and he will reign with “justice and righteousness.” Advent allows us to express our pain and cry with the Prophets, Martyrs and God’s people in the Scriptures as we ask, “how long oh, Lord? How long?”
We sing the words dear desire of every nation. Hope for every longing heart. We are singing about Jesus.
The hustle and bustle of the season remind us of our emptiness and dissatisfaction. We are told that we need a 50 inch flat-screen for under $250. We feel guilty because we cannot buy our loved one a new Lexus. We fill our stockings with stuff and fill our time with screens, sounds and images. Everything our culture screams at us right now points to the reality that we are not the people we wish we were; it offers empty promises that tell us dollars and stuff can make us those people.
Advent defeats those lies. It says wait. Hope. It reminds us that stuff will never fulfill our longings, only Jesus. In a chaotic world, advent reorients us to the Prince of Peace who will come to judge in righteousness and equity.
We need Advent. We need to be reminded and reoriented that the things of this world, though not always bad in and of themselves, do not compare to Christ. We need to be refreshed and renewed that evil will be defeated. We need a better hope.
Over the next four Sundays, we are looking at four Minor Prophets to see how Jesus is that hope for which all humanity longs.