Advent (Or: “Why are there candles in the sanctuary all of a sudden?”)

Christmas Gifts

How well do you wait?  Are you ever actually able to wait?  Almost everything that you could want or need can be shipped to your home—overnight if necessary—so that you can have what you want immediately.  Communication is at the touch of a button.  Entertainment is now streamed to your cell phone for your constant amusement.  Music even fills the elevators these days because it would be just too awkward to stand the 60 seconds inside it without a distraction.

As a culture, we don’t wait well.  Just try telling a child who has just been through the toy aisle that “you have a birthday coming up,” or “you know, you can put that on your Christmas list, because it’s in less than a month,” and you will be bombarded with the same brand of patience that all-too-often characterizes who we are as adults, just in smaller shoes.

Since we are used to instant access, instant microwaveable popcorn, and instant gratification in just about everything, we hate having to wait for things.  Yet, Scripture says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).  God’s children are awaiting our Savior’s coming.

When we slow down and look around, we can see a world that is broken and messed up.  We can’t look around at the injustice and sin that is rampant in our world and say, “It is very good.”  Yet, this is exactly what God said about His creation when He made all things (Gen. 1:31).  Because of man’s sin in the garden, creation itself “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19).  Creation itself is awaiting the Savior’s return.

John says in Revelation 21:3–4 that the end will look like this: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

That’s where we’re headed, but we’re not there yet.  With the first coming of Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven is among us, in our hearts through faith in Christ, but the Kingdom has not yet fully come.

And so we wait.  Advent is about that wait.  We are in the “already and not yet” stage of redemption’s story.  Would you commit to making this advent season a season of waiting and watching for His return?  Would you take time this season to meditate on the great gift we were given when God came in a manger?

May we as a people look with great anticipation for the day when Jesus Christ our Savior returns and we will be with Him forever.  Until then, may we wait.

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