The existential and missional reality of Advent through the eyes of the Gospels points to the potential and possibility of what the church/kingdom of God is and can be and yet it seems so far away. The promises of Advent Gospel suggests that people are able to give witness to God’s truth in the face of the systems or leadership that try to suppress their truth; that those who believe in the world-changing gospel according to Jesus are able to testify to this gospel even in the face of resistance; that along with many other exhortations, the Good News will be preached (Lk 3:18); that our human expectations are not God’s.

Advent Gospel claims God’s expectations in the face of the world’s false ones. The Church is called into a journey, into a walk with God just as Mary was called to walk the road to Bethlehem without detouring to nearby Samaria (Luke 2:1-7). The church is detouring today and this points to its decline and declaration of our nation as a minority Christian nation.

Mary walked in the light of God’s Word and His glory was shown on her way. Mary did God’s good will and God’s favour abides with her for ever. Is the church ready to give witness to God’s truth in the face of secularisation? Some of our Christmas carols sometimes missed the reality of what Mary experienced 2000 years ago. It was not silent, calm or bright around Mary contrary to Fr Joseph Mohr’s revelling majestic silence of the wintry night in the little village of Oberndorf, Austria in 1816. Mohr’s famous carol ‘Silent Night, Holy night’ was first sang on Christmas eve 1818 in Austria as a performance in a church Silent Night with the help of Franz Gruber.

Advent Gospel is theological and missional. It’s more than a nice tale about a baby being born in a difficult circumstances. It is the missional strategy of God and the vision tactics of the Son. It’s about life, death, blood, confrontation, darkness, light, and war. It’s the clash of two kingdoms. Jesus came to overcome darkness, the church is called to witness the same. Advent Gospel does not celebrate the birth of mildness and passiveness. Advent Gospel is world-altering, counter-culture, and life challenging. Advent Gospel is power beyond anything we can imagine, coming with humble tactics that strip human nature of self-sufficiency, self-justification, and self-enthronement. We must be careful not to be so self absorbed that we misses what is most important about Advent Gospel – the reign of God through Jesus Christ. Advent Gospel is about opening our eyes to what God’s coming into our lives truly means.

In an essay entitled, “The Coming of Jesus in our Midst”, Dietrich Bonhoeffer warns us that “we have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience.” 

Lord, have mercy and deliver your church from making Advent just a nice tale without call to repentance.