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. Isaiah 9:2
Today we step into Advent. If any of us were thinking, “No, it can’t be here ALREADY,” this blast of icy cold, combined with the long dark nights, has set us straight. It is interesting that the cold and dark around us (at least here in Calgary) help mirror in our bodies the Advent longings of our souls. Advent is a season of yearning, anticipating, and waiting with hope for light to break into the darkness. We wish we could wait in the brightness and warmth of the sunshine–that would be so much more comfortable. But if we already have what we long for, hope is but a farce. So Advent becomes a time to recognize the depth of our need and call out with longing and expectation for Jesus to come anew and dispel what is cold and dark in our world and in our very souls. To the One who came we call out anew, Come Lord Jesus.
For centuries, the people of God longed for the Messiah, clinging to God’s promises, wrestling with their doubts, walking in faith, awaiting the dawn of his coming. And the Messiah came in Jesus Christ. The baby in a manger. The child of a virgin. The son of a carpenter. Not as they expected, for always, God’s ways are not our ways. Not in Jesus’ birth, or life, or death, or resurrection. So as you wait for his coming in this season, don’t be surprised if what looks like a cold dark stable in your life becomes the space where he makes himself known. Keep your eyes open. If we search for his coming only in what looks like the security of a royal prince, we may miss him in what feels more like the vulnerability of an infant child.
This first Sunday of Advent is the “New Year’s Day” of the church calendar. Last Sunday we ended the year by celebrating Christ the King Sunday. It was a day to declare the reality that Jesus is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion . . . not only in this age but also in the age to come. (Ephesians 1:21) The paradox of our faith is revealed as we flip the pages of our calendar. The bright radiance of Christ the King Sunday presses directly against the darkness of the first Sunday of Advent, pierced only by a distant glimmer of light. Yet, the assured receiving of last Sunday is as real as the vulnerable waiting of this one.
As we move forward, it’s okay to glance back to last week now and then. We wait, knowing that ours is a God of glorious light who does some of his most amazing work in the darkness. Let’s embrace that tension and let it deepen our understanding of the mysterious workings of our God as we wait on the one who comes to us.
Listen prayerfully: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we enter this season of hustle and bustle, giving and receiving, and coming and going, we pray that you will slow us down and reveal to us what we truly need. Create in us an overwhelming longing for You . . . the light who has comes into our darkness. Open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive the gift of your loving presence. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.