I’m going to go ahead and say it: Advent is my favorite time of year. I try to make it last as long as possible. I often stay up until 2am or later on Christmas morning. Sitting on my couch, listening to Christmas music with all the lights down but the Christmas tree lights, having finally finished wrapping all the presents, I marvel at God’s goodness after a season filled with so much activity, anticipation, and celebration.
This fall has felt like an extended Advent season to me. While we have preached through the Old Testament prophets, I’ve known where we would end up. In fact, each time I read through the Bible, the OT prophets naturally make me excited to arrive in the New Testament. This is partly because I’m tired of reading about wheels in the sky, dry bones, and other crazy passages.
However, I’ve also just been taken on a months-long journey of expectation. I’ve walked with these prophets as they have awaited the coming the of a Messiah who would make things right. Advent is a time of waiting. We journey with the prophets of old, waiting for the second return of the Messiah, to completely restore all things.
What we learn through this season is that God is present, even in the waiting. God is at work even when life doesn’t look how we’ve anticipated. This is never more clear than in the birth of Jesus. After all these centuries of hoping for a Messiah who would destroy the enemies of God’s people, Jesus is born in a manger to an ordinary family. The Messiah enters the world as a small, helpless baby.
This baby, though, changes everything. This small, but marvelous child ushers in the Kingdom of God. Through Jesus, we learn that God is willing to go to any length in order to pursue us and free us from death. Through this helpless baby, we learn that God meets us where we are.
I love Advent because I’m forced to talk about the fact that God is at work in the waiting, in the places where I’d least expect. In the midst of the long lines, extra events and parties, and deep house cleaning for guests, I discover that God is already here.
Additionally, I am reminded that even though God is here, God’s not done with us. God is still using his church to bring about his kingdom more fully. And one day, Jesus will come again in glory. All wrongs will be made right, all death will be conquered, and God’s kingdom will be fully revealed. In the meantime, like the Israelites and prophets of old, we eagerly await the coming of our Messiah while we also discover the activity of God in our midst here and now.
During this season of Advent, may you experience the very presence of God in your life.
Austin D. Hill