Advent : Arrival

Advent – It’s all about the waiting. Whilst we all scurry to sprinkle magic and sparkle, lights, and decorations around our homes it is all too easy to overlook the importance of the waiting. “Advent” simply means arrival, and Christians have used this time to think about waiting in expectation of the Messiah’s birth and the return of Jesus in glory.
Advent tells us that Christians are “people in waiting.” Through advent, we tap into the longing of ancient Israel as we hear the yearning for rescue, salvation, justice that we cannot secure for ourselves: “O come O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel.”

Isaiah 11:1-9

Isaiah 11:1-9 is our focus this week with its promise of the coming “root of Jesse” who will rectify wrong, establish justice, and usher in a new world of peace and harmony. No doubt those who heard Isaiah’s words asked: “how long O Lord how long?” And the answer? Over 700 years. The Old Testament gives witness to a people waiting for a Messiah, generation after generation, through tragedy and triumph until He finally appears as a baby in a cattle trough.

Of course, we live after the coming of the Messiah, his death and resurrection, in a world reclaimed by God, with our eyes opened to glories unknown to Isaiah. Immanuel has come, “infinity dwindled to infancy” as poet Gerard Manley Hopkins described. Yet we wait. We wait for his full and final coming.

As Will Willimon puts it:

“Our lives are stretched between the sneak preview of the new world being born among us in the church, and the old world where the principalities and powers are reluctant to give way.”

A Year of Waiting

This year has been a year of waiting. We wait with diminishing patience for life to return to normal, to see friends, work normally, and yes to sing loudly in worship! I confess I struggle to wait, yet the posture of every believer in scripture in the Old and New Testament is that of waiting on the Lord. We live with a foot firmly planted in the light of the new day dawning but with eyes open to the darkness that surrounds us and our need for Christ to set us free. The cry of the church is “Maranatha”- even so, Come Lord Jesus.
Perhaps this advent we might learn to wait in hope, as we look for his coming again to complete the work of redemption. Perhaps we can hear and heed the words of Psalm 130: 5-7
I wait for the LORD; my soul does wait, and in His Word, I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning— more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Questions for Sunday:

1. How do I “wait on the Lord” through advent?
2. In what ways does the hope of Christ return in glory work out in my life day to day?