“To be a Christian is to live every day of our lives in solidarity with those who sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death, but to live in the unshakable hope of those who expect the dawn.”
~ Fleming Rutledge, Advent
The Advent season is the beginning of the Christian calendar; last Sunday was New Year’s Day for followers of Jesus. And the season is intended to remind us that we live between the First and Second Comings.
The Christmas season is unquestionably a time of great joy. We celebrate the coming of our Messiah, the holy Son of God. He comes to us in a flesh-and-blood human, the ultimate inbreaking of heaven into earth that redeems us and begins the restoration of all things. We celebrate that gracious gift of God by giving gifts to one another, by gathering together with family and friends and other Christians to sing and praise, by giving generously to those in need, by decorating our homes and church buildings, by forgiving and showing mercy.
But this Advent season is also a time for painful yearning. Right now, we only see glimpses of the Kingdom of God on earth. The kingdoms of men and women are much more obvious. We see terror and violence in the Holy Lands, war and oppression in Ukraine and Myanmar. Poverty and racism and division. Suicide rates still going up. Our society seems increasingly lost in chaos and confusion, aimlessness and animosity.
This is where we are, between our Lord’s First and Second Comings. The glory of what our God has done and is doing through Christ Jesus calls to us and fills us with hope. But we also mourn for this broken world and for fractured people. We long for God’s perfect justice and peace. We pray for reconciliation and unity, for healing and grace. We long for his Kingdom to come on this earth fully and for his will to be done here just as it is in heaven.
The light dawned on this world in a manger in Bethlehem almost two thousand years ago. And we celebrate.
The dawn is also still coming. And we pray. Lord, come quickly.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…
They rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest…
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end…
The Zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”