Tomorrow starts yet another Advent season.
I love advent.
I love the lighting of the candles in the advent wreath each week. I love the liturgy, and the scriptures and the beauty of it all.
But what I love above all, is what Advent points to.
Advent means “coming”.
We observe advent in commemoration and remembrance, of course, of Jesus’ birth. The God-man who came to us, as a child, born to Mary, heralded by angels, visited by the lowliness that was the shepherds, and the elite that were the wise men. He, who is sovereign, became man, and truly was Emmanuel–God with us, in all our being.
Our joys–surely our Savior experienced joy as He walked with his friends, and as He delighted in Peter’s goofiness and Thomas’ cynicism and John’s adoration. Surely He experienced joy, as he ate with Mary and Martha and Lazarus, and as He raised the little girl who was dead.
Our griefs–surely our Savior experienced sorrow similar to that which we experience: betrayal by friends, death of those He loved, rejection by the people, loneliness in the garden, and forsaken-ness on the cross.
Our temptations–as we are taught by scripture that He, too, was tempted and tried–yet sinned not.
Our weariness–surely our Savior was weary and tired and worn by the cares of this world, and by the physical demands placed upon Him, as we are today.
Truly, He was Emmanuel. He came, and was with us.
But always at the start of Advent, my mind turns to the 400 years of silence that preceded His birth. The period of time, between the end of what we consider to be the “Old Testament” with Malachi, and the beginning of the “New Testament” with the announcement of His birth.
You see, for Christ-followers, celebrating Advent is not solely about remembering the birth of our Savior.
It is also this: Our anticipation, and longing, and waiting for His return. For His coming.
Maranatha. Come, Lord. Come quickly, our Savior.
It is the Now, and the Not Yet. He is with us, today, as our Emmanuel. And we worship Him as such. But there is also coming a day, when He will return; whatever that may look like.
And we recognize that, this Advent season, and every Advent season. And we raise our voices to sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, but not just as a reflection of what Has come to pass, but also a cry for what will come to pass, when these words of this time-stable hymn are fulfilled to a degree that we long for, and are waiting for:
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.