The Hope of Advent

It was the season of Advent. On December 14, 2012, a murderer walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and gunned down 26 people. Like so many people across the country, I mourned. As a mother to a toddler, there was a new element of pain, as I had some comprehension of the pain the parents would feel. My prayer, over and over, was “Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Last Wednesday, during Advent, two terrorists walked into a holiday party in San Bernadino and gunned down as many people as they could. Come, Lord Jesus, come! 

Today, there are people who will die of starvation. There are Syrians who will flee their homes out of fear of death. There are women who will be raped. There are people who will decide not to receive needed medical treatment because they don’t have the money.

Come, Lord Jesus, come! 

Advent is the time I’m made aware every day that the world is horribly broken, yet God will be returning to the earth to dwell with us and make all things new (Revelation 21:5). 

Before the Newtown massacre, I never observed Advent. Yet a blog post I had recently read, titled What is Advent? Why & How Should You Observe it?,  made me realize the wonder of Advent:

As part of all creation groaning and waiting for the restoration of all things upon Christ’s return, I know I’ve felt this expectant longing in my heart all my life. I’ve heard countless sermons about Christ’s prophecy-fulfilling first coming and his prophesied second coming, but I didn’t know this “expectancy” had its own season and name: Advent.  This season of Advent is a re-enactment of Israel’s wait for the birth of their Messiah, and a symbol of our longing for Christ’s return.

We observe Advent to remember that there was a time when Christ had not yet “come,” when humanity was waiting for God’s arrival. We anticipate with Israel what it must have been like to live in a world without Christ, waiting for the coming of God to earth, veiled in flesh, to set up God’s Kingdom.

Yet we are also awaiting God’s arrival, when God will set up God’s physical Kingdom on this earth for all eternity. 

What will that look like?

There will be no more crying or tears or pain. Our broken bodies will be made new. Creation will be restored.

The best part? God’s city will come down to earth and God will dwell among us. God planned on dwelling with us to begin with, but that plan had to be abandoned for the time being. God’s plan is to dwell with us again, and when Christ returns, the plan will finally be fulfilled.

Advent is a reminder to us that God has promised to bring heaven to earth and fix everything, turn it all back the way it was supposed to be to begin with. Justice and righteousness will reign, and we will dwell with God forever.

Newtown will be made right. San Bernadino will be made right. All the injustice that occurs this very day, injustice that I perpetuate and injustice that others perpetuate, will be made right.

Advent is a concentrated reminder that Christ will come again, a time when we are reminded everyday to pray, Come, Lord Jesus, come! When Jesus does come, every injustice that has ever occurred will be made right.

Yet this reminder isn’t just for the twenty-some days of Advent. This reminder is needed every day of the year. As we seek to be conduits for God’s Kingdom in our daily lives, we bring this prayer and its hope to a broken, fearful, and hurting world.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Advertisements

Waiting for the Coming King

5221926511_a65fc7df0c_o

flickr photo by S.H.P.

I’ve come upon a wide array of interesting advent resources this year. Some are primarily prayer guides, others focus on art or historical traditions to bring into your family, and some are just plain fun. All offer the opportunity to us to deepen our understanding of what it means to wait for our coming King!

Online Resources

The Advent Project, Biola University Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts: this is a really neat, online multimedia advent resource. Music, art, poetry are all used as focal points to reflect on the “incarnation of Christ and his virgin birth,” “prayers inspired by the Old Testament book of Isaiah,” “the Christmas narrative,” “Jesus as a refugee,” and “Christ’s profound proclamations of peace.”

http://guides.library.duq.edu/c.php?g=232827&p=1545893

flickr photo by S.H.P.

Art for Advent 2015, by Seeing Art History: an art historian who shares reflections on advent-related art as a way to further enter the season.

Advent Prayer Guide 2015: Stand Alongside Syrian Refugees, by World Vision: A prayer guide that tells stories of Syrian refugees, with both weekly and daily scripture, reflections, and prayers.

50 Resources to Make This the Best Advent Ever: Self explanatory!

Books

Here are a few I’m enjoying this year.

Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative” by Russ Ramsey. A narrative guide “through a contemplative season of advent – twenty-five chapters, one for each day of December.” [Kindle version free as of this posting on Dec 2, 2015]

The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life” by Joan Chittister. This book explains the church year and has a chapter on advent.

Let Us Keep the Feast: Living the Church Year at Home (Complete Collection)” Jessica Snell, Ed. This book also explains the church year and has a chapter on advent. Each chapter contains ideas of traditions you can use in your own home to observe the season of advent.

Seeking God’s Face: Praying With the Bible Through the Year” by Philip Reinders and Eugene Peterson. This is a prayer book that takes you through the church year with a section of a Psalm, a scripture reading, suggestions for prayer topics, and a brief prayer.

Music

Most popular songs from the “Christmas season” are actually Christmas songs, not Advent song, so most “Christmas” albums are primarily Christmas songs (celebrating the birth of Jesus) with a few Advent songs as well. So most of the music I enjoy at this time of year have both Advent and Christmas songs on them.

Waiting Songs by Rain for Roots

Silent Night by Red Mountain Church

A Child is Born by Sojourn Music

Salvation is Created by Bifrost Arts