Right now it is Advent, and for many, advent is the beginning of the Christian Calendar, a calendar that reminds Christians of the history of redemption and the life of Jesus Christ. Many non-denominational Evangelicals recognize two of the major points of this calendar, Christmas and easter, because they have become enshrined in popular culture. Less recognizable, however, are some of the seasons like this current one, Advent. I’d like to take some time to further elaborate on Advent as it draws to a close. Advent is the story of Light coming into the world, the story of the fulfillment of the promises of God to Israel in the incarnation, and it is the substance of our current hope of looking toward the return of Christ at the end of this age.
Advent is the whole story of redemption from the first sin to the birth of Christ, and if I were to sum it up in one word, I would use the word Light, and light symbolized by a candle. In 1 John we read that that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. And in John 1 we read that Jesus Christ himself is the “the light of all people. [And] the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. [. . . ] The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” This is the central theme of advent, it is light entering darkness and the whole Old Testament leads to the revelation of the light of Christ by progressively showing the Israelites more and more of who God was and how God was indeed a God who is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness but who will by no means clear the guilty. Then at the beginning of the New Testament, John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord by being a witness to testify of that light that would come after him. And just after Jesus is Born, Simeon sings to God that he has seen God’s salvation that his have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles. Advent is the story of the approaching dawn of the light of Christ, and I urge you to take time to reflect on the faithfulness of God, of how he has revealed himself as light and of how Jesus Christ is light.
I say that this light is a candle because when Christmas arrives, we as Christians celebrate the incarnation. We celebrate God and man subsisting in one body. And as much as we see through the birth of Christ that he is indeed born of woman and thus human, Jesus Christ is also very much God. He is Light from Light. As a burning flame can light another Candle, Jesus Christ is eternally begotten of the father. Because as flame can give rise to flame, separate and yet the same, so has christ been for all time, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. Jesus Christ is the light of God come into the world that we might be saved.
Finally, Advent looks forward to the return of Christ. In the same way that we recognize that the Old Testament, John the Baptist, and Mary all prepare the way for the Lord, so does the Church. Today, Christ is not here, but we recognize and look toward the return of our Lord, and we as a Church must prepare the way for his return by spreading the gospel, by caring for others, and by building his kingdom on this earth. Advent is as the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 let us not be shut out of the Kingdom of God by our lack of care. Let us not forsake looking towards the return of our Lord, and let us make haste in preparing for his kingdom.
Let us always be in prayer during advent saying, “Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus, Come.” For in Advent we look back to Christ’s coming and we look forward to his imminent return.