Advent starts this Sunday! I love this season. It invites us to both look back at the anticipation of the coming Lord from the Old Testament and look forward to his return. As someone who has always loved the Old Testament, I love entering into the anticipation of prophets like Isaiah with expectant hope for the sovereign Lord’s dwelling among us. I also join with Paul in setting my eyes on the return of Jesus. In this season we joyfully anticipate the very soon return of Jesus.
Advent is a season I grew up celebrating. My father was raised in the Catholic Church before spending many years pastoring in other denominations (20 of those years in a Mennonite Brethren church in Nova Scotia). He loved this season. He loved taking a look at the Messianic passages of the Old Testament and tapping into the emotions of those who received the prophetic messages from God. Every Christmas he would dress up as a biblical character to share the joy-filled message of the coming, or just born, king. I loved how this drew me into the story. I experienced the anticipation of Jesus and not just the reality of Him already here with us.
Advent is a season in which we are led to anticipate and welcome the return of Jesus. The early believers readily awaited his return. After almost 2,000 years since Jesus’ ascension to heaven, we have lost some of their ready expectation. The long wait makes it really difficult to anticipate his return or even find hope in this promise.
This season is all about rediscovering this anticipation. The intent is to freshly discover Emmanuel, God with us, through the eyes of a people who cried out for his coming, who anticipated with expectant hope the coming of the King.
Jesus comes to a world that is in need of him, has been told he is coming, yet has somehow forgotten. Since the fall of creation, the coming of Jesus has been revealed. The nation of Israel was to be in ready anticipation for the coming of Jesus. Not only that, they were also to tell the world of his coming. When it finally happened the anticipation had been largely lost. There is a beautiful story at the end of Luke 2 in which a man named Simeon is told by God he would not die before seeing the coming saviour. His life was lived in anticipation, in expectant joy for the day of Jesus’ coming. As an old man, he holds Jesus in his arms and praises God!
I have a lot to learn about anticipating the second coming of Jesus. There is so much to anticipate! When Jesus returns, he is ushering in a new heaven and new earth. He is bringing completion to the restoration he began. It is a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. It is a day when we see Jesus, our saviour, riding in complete victory.
Jesus tells us he is returning soon. Soon means it will be sudden. There will not be warning. We are always to be ready and anticipating it. We are always to find hope in it, and sharing that hope with others. It will be a day when there will be no sin, no pain, no heartache. This is good news to share. Like a captured Israel who knew their need to be saved, we too are living in a world we do not belong in. This is not our home! Our kingdom is not of this earth and we are going to be welcomed home upon the return of Jesus. We are foreigners until the day of his return.
We are faced these days with a global refugee crisis. There are millions of people who have left their home and nation to seek refuge elsewhere. Likewise, as followers of Jesus we are not in our home. We are not seeking refuge here, but are anticipating the day we will be brought home by Jesus. This life, on this earth, is not what we are living for or building towards. We are waiting for the day of our last breath, or Jesus’ return. God has plans for us until then, but how wonderful that day will be! We have never actually been home, but we do know it is better than anything we could hope for. There is no chance of disappointment. There will never be a point where we would look back on this life and wish we could go back and experience something else. Each moment will be better than anything in this world.
Over the next four Sundays I am going to post blog entries looking back and forward, back at what was fulfilled in Jesus, and forward to what we are anticipating in his return.