Advent is a season all about waiting. The word advent means arrival: the arrival of The Messiah, a baby named Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem and who came to save us from our sins. If the Good News of Jesus’ arrival, life, and mission is a reality for us, then it bears the question, why do we bother with Advent each year? Why would we not just skip the waiting period and celebrate all season? It is in Advent that we embrace the reality that Jesus has come to usher in the Kingdom of God, but we yet await His return, and ultimately, the completion of His mission to restore the world to its original and perfect form. It is also in Advent that we reengage with the people of God, the Israelites, who waited in silence for four centuries for a Word from God, until one night, the angels appeared out of the dark sky proclaiming the start of God’s rescue mission for the world.
So, each year we purposefully and intentionally sit in waiting. We all have questions that are unanswered. We all have needs that aren’t fulfilled. Some of us have pain that lingers. Yes, our Messiah Jesus has come. Yes, we live in this truth. However, we are still waiting for Him to return. This is the tension we welcome at Advent. Christmas will come, and with it the fanfare and festal proclamations of joy for all, but Christmas is not here yet, and we are called in this season to embrace what it means to wait. Do not skip this season, but find in it purpose. Just as we are called to live intentionally as sojourners and pilgrims longing and waiting for and pointing toward our coming King and our fulfilled citizenship, we find purpose in these days. This time is not wasted, nor is it futile. God’s purpose for you and me is not to escape this world, but to embrace our call to live in it, fill it, and bring His light and life into it. This work is slow, confusing and hard at times. It is in this call that our God meets us as a Wonderful Counselor (camp out in Isaiah 9 this season). In our sojourning we have a faithful listener, guide, and comforter: one who can see our need and will comfort us with His wonderful truth. In our waiting and in our need, we can sit at the feet of our God and confide in Him all things. We endure and stand firm by the power of His Holy Spirit living in us. In the Gospel of John 14:25-26 Jesus says,
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
God our counselor has wonderfully and wholly put Himself in our hearts as we wait for the complete renewal of all things. He has purposefully set for us a time to live for Him as members of His Kingdom, while telling of His Gospel, as we wait for all the work to be completed, and as we participate in the work of Jesus. We wait not as the world waits. We wait not as those who have hope only in the temporal and fickle things and people of this world. Rather, we wait with purpose, knowing that we have access to our God to communicate our frustration, our pain, our questions, and our needs. We wait, knowing that our labors, our sufferings, and even our joys are not in vain. We are being remade, as the Lord uses us to remake His creation. As we wait, we have access to our God who shows us His goodness and reminds us of the beauty that exists and that is too come. He is our Wonderful Counselor. In this season, enter into the quiet, the longing, and the darkness. Embrace your call for the long journey, for the yet unrealized but promised restoration of all things, for our God is an ever present guide.
Wait for Him as He abides in us, for He is a Wonderful Counselor.
The Book of Common Prayer Collect for the First Sunday of Advent
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the
dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Lectionary Readings for the First Sunday of Advent
Jeremiah 33:14-16 Psalm 25: 1-10 1 These 3:9-13 Luke 21: 25-36