“Already – but not yet!”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Advent is a passed over season by the world. Stores offer no Advent specials. Hallmark has not created any Advent cards. Even most Protestant churches, like the culture around us have moved right on to Christmas celebrations.
However, as Lutheran Christians we join the bulk of Christians (Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Episcopalian, . . .) around the world by celebrating the strange, out of sync with culture season of Advent. So what is it and why does it matter?
Advent is of course the season of the church year when we prepare and wait. We prepare for Christmas. We prepare for Christ’s Second Coming. We wait for Christmas 2017. We also wait for that great day when Jesus will come again in glory! Advent starts on the first Sunday after St. Andrew’s Day (November 30) and lasts until the evening of December 24. In days past it was almost a “little Lent” type of season. Fasting, greater spiritual devotion, increased worship and prayer times, serving those in need – these were some of the disciplines of Advent just as they remain disciplines of the Lenten season.
During the season of Advent there are many special days commemorating important people in the life of the church – St. Nicholas (Dec. 6), St. Lucia (Dec. 13) – to name just two. In some countries in northern Europe these two saints’ days are the time gifts are given and special celebrations held with Christmas being a more religious celebration.
I have always deeply enjoyed the Advent season because it is a reflection of how we live out our daily lives as believers. We live knowing that Jesus has already come. Emmanuel is with us each and every day. But, life isn’t all that it should be. We live in a broken world and we live broken lives that can only be fixed by the forgiving and transforming power of God. So although Jesus has already come, we still wait for that day when all will be made new. When this broken world and our own broken lives will be healed and made whole. We aren’t there yet. But, we wait with hope knowing that Christ will return. The blue color of Advent is a reminder that we wait in and with hope.
So I’ve always seen the season of Advent as a good time of the year to renew our priorities and our grounding in the faith. Jesus has come. Jesus will come again. Christ gives us strength and guidance, peace and joy in the here and now. Christ promises to one day come again bringing perfect peace and joy, strength and guidance. Advent like the Christian life is living in the in between times. Living in a world where Emmanuel is with us, yet where brokenness and darkness seems to reign. Yet, knowing and hoping that the best is yet to come and will come!
During these few weeks of December I hope that you too will take time to reflect on the message Advent has for us to ponder. Already – but not yet! That’s Advent and that’s the Christian life! Have a blessed Advent season!
Together in Christ’s service,