The Advent tension is a way of learning again that God is God: that between even our deepest and holiest longing and the reality of God is a gap which only grace can cross – Rowan Williams
Regardless of what is happening in Paris, Fury’s and Wilder’s fight, the Brexit and EU, wars and global divisions, the good news is that “God is with us,” there is hope, the consummation of broken earth with healing heaven. In Jesus’ first advent, he came to redeem us and give us life through his death and resurrection. Advent as a major missional practice of the cyclical patterns of the church’s liturgical and lectionary calendar beyond its repeating nature prepares and summons us for a lifestyle. It is a lifestyle through the lens of the second coming of Jesus Christ not just as a child, but as the Saviour and Judge. Advent road prepares us for the dawn of a new age. Advent is about season of change, the way the house and our streets look, and the music or hymns we play or sing.
Adventcentric as a way of life is promoted in Scripture as we are encouraged to ‘be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man … And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.’ Advent acknowledges that we are living in a fallen world but the hope is that God sent His ONLY SON, Jesus Christ to redeem this world and very soon will make everything right again. Our hope is that, one day, we will be “liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21).
Advent as a divine alert prepares us not to be ‘caught up in either the excessive pleasures or worries of the day, but rather remain watchful.’ The gospel text from Luke 21:25-36 describes the end of the world and the signs that will accompany that ending. Advent story is my story and your story. Using the words of Mark Zimmermann, a believer living adventcentric life is portrayed as one looking ‘to the Wise Men to teach us where to focus our attention.’ They are people that set their hope and sights on things above, where God is. They are the people that ‘draw closer to Jesus… When our Advent journey ends, and we reach the place where Jesus resides in Bethlehem, may we, like the Wise Men, fall on our knees and adore him as our true and only King.’ The book of Common Prayer, published in 1662 aptly illustrates a believer living adventcentric life as those who depend on God’s redemption at Christ expense, casting away the works of darkness and putting on the armour of light, ‘now in the time of this life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; So that, at the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal.’ The reflection is that Jesus’ past, present, and future arrival point is to hope this Christmas season and always.
Living adventcentric life is God’s centred and it comes with some tensions, tensions which keeps us moving toward the kingdom of God, which we already see in the manger. Today, we light the first of the four candle in Advent wreath: the candle of Hope. Hope in this context is about our confident expectation on Christ’s Second coming despite the news headlines or what happens when the road ahead is filled with secularism, injustice, greed, death, violence, wars, persecutions, Boko Haram, Brexit, divisions, corruption, and general uncertainties. The tension in relation to dwindling confident expectation for our tomorrow and walking in hope that transcends all ages in a hopeless world calls us to hope in Jesus. This hope goes beyond just a belief in a baby in a manger but a call to surrender to Jesus as ‘an anchor for the soul,’ sure and secures through the storms of life. Remember, Advent is for people like me and you – those who have lost, mourned, and grieved. Political, economic, financial, spiritual, and even personal tensions are high, the Advent season gives believers a chance to focus on Christ’s message of hope. True disciples of Jesus lives in a world of perpetual tension, the tension of the ‘already but not yet … a tension made real by our identity as resurrection people.’ Living adventcentric life as herald of hope in a hectic world calls for a people who embrace tension, hopeful and vigilant waiting with potential and passion propelling us into mission and evangelism (Zeph 3:19).
Prayer: Please, remember in your prayer a colleague of mine who lost her only daughter yesterday.