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!

I used to think Jesus’ love was small and now I think Jesus’ love is extravagant.

I used to think ___ but now I think ___ #OutofSortsBook synchroblog

Snowbird Swimming Pool

flickr photo by amishrobot

When I was a kid, we used to go swim at a public pool. It was huge with clear, turquoise blue water, and I was a voracious swimmer. In second grade, I joined the local swim club, and learned how to shallow dive so I could race in the breast stroke.

When I was in third grade we moved to a new town. Since I had learned to shallow dive in the public pool in our old town, it made perfect sense to me to dive in the 5′ section of the new public pool. So I did. And for the only time in my entire life, I got in trouble. In public.

I was completely humiliated. I had to sit out of the pool next to the life guard. I hung my head in shame, vowing to never get in trouble in public again.

Out of the Shadows, Flickr craig Clouter

flickr user craigcloutier

I was a pretty good kid. I went to church every Sunday from the second week I was born until I graduated high school (just ask my mom). All my life, I heard about sin. I knew the things people said were sin. As I moved into teenage-hood, I became more aware that I did things that the church people said were sin. And that’s when I first started wearing the cloak of shame.

“Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
     Guilty of dust and sin….”

I’m not really sure if I was a Christian. But I did believe in Jesus. I knew that Jesus could never, ever, love me because of all the terrible things I had done. I wrapped that cloak even tighter, made sure Jesus couldn’t see my face.

“Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
     Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
     Go where it doth deserve….”

And then, it happened. Jesus captivated my heart. He gently took off the cloak of shame. Jesus showed me that he knew of my sin, that he loved me, that he already had taken the blame for what I had done. I was finally free. I could finally face Jesus and bask in his extravagant, inexplicable love.

“And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?”

To get even a glimpse of that extravagant love of Christ, we have to allow ourselves to look up, to let Jesus see our face under the cloak, which we cannot remove on our own. We have to stop arguing that we are so terrible that the creator of the universe could never forgive or love us.

Just stop talking. And listen. And accept love.

“You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
     So I did sit and eat.”
 
Check out Out of Sortsthe new book by author and blogger Sarah Bessy. To hear Sarah talk about the book, which will no doubt make you a fan if you’re not already, and make you buy the book immediately, check out this interview on the Newsworthy with Norsworthy podcast.
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Poem: Love (III) by George Herbert. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/poem/173632