Advent…the end for which we wait.

IMG_0177I tried. I really did. I wanted to do the advent countdown this year. but several things got in the way. as i wrote about being too busy to wait, i was busy being busy and not waiting. I wanted to write and encourage you to wait and look for the Christ King to come again.

besides being too busy, I have also been too busy feeling sorry for myself and feeling like I don’t really care if Christmas comes or not. it’s not that anything is wrong, really. and I know that my faith is not based on my feelings and it’s not that my faith is weak or missing, or lacking or anything like that. its just that i am feeling too much obligation and not enough Jesus.

i look forward to this countdown tradition i started two years ago, but this year, it just wasn’t coming easy and i begin to feel it was something I had to do or something that I should do. and i felt guilty for not doing it. but i have to release myself from that imaginary burden i placed on my own shoulders.

and its okay that I don’t feel Christmas, and its okay to admit I feel sad right now and that for me, Christmas isn’t always happy and smiles and magic…cause right now it isn’t. and i need to be able to just be okay with that.

I still will write some more but there will be no countdown, no make up posts.

and more than anything, right now, i long for the Advent of the Christ King and as the Apostle Paul said, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” Philippians 1:23. But, also like Paul, I know that He still has things for me to do in this world…and I pray I will be faithful to that which He has called me.

 

day 6 of Advent–the end for which we wait (from 12/5)

In the beginning…

That’s when the waiting began.Right after God created the heavens and the earth. Just after He said “it is good.”  All the way back in the Garden where the tree of good and evil stood.IMG_0052 IMG_0054

The first man and the first woman had to learn the waiting. They were the first to hear about the advent.

“And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and hers (Jesus); he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15

Adam and Eve were the recipients of the first prophecy about Jesus. Satan tried for thousands of years to destroy Jesus before He was born. He struck at Israel, continually trying to destroy the line that would eventually produce the Savior.

Christians like to say that Jesus defeated Satan on the cross. But Scripture never actually says that. More like, Jesus made it clear what Satan’s end will be.

Satan will ultimately and finally be defeated, his head will be crushed, when the Christ King’s Advent is complete. If Satan had been utterly destroyed on the cross, we would not still be fighting against him.

Think of it this modern analogy: It’s the 4th quarter, 2 minutes to go. Team A is up by 50 points. They are going to win. But the game is not over, so victory is not official yet, but we all know how it’s gonna end.

In spiritual terms, Satan is down by everything…we know how it’s gonna end, but we’ve got to finish with this world first.

Then the first prophecy will be finally complete.

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10

And then, at the Second Advent, our waiting will be done.

advent day 5–the end for which we wait (from 12/4)

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We should be waiting, it’s advent after all…and for hundreds of years Israel waited for His advent. They waited for the Messiah, they waited for deliverance, they waited for redemption. They waited.  “How long, oh Lord?” cried the psalmist and the prophets.

But we are not a people who likes to wait. We don’t even get out of our cars to eat, bank, pick up dry cleaning. We multi-task in hopes of gaining a few moments in time, we microwave so we don’t have to spend time cooking. We have forgotten the taste of real food on our tongues. We don’t like to wait.

So it’s no surprise that in this time of advent that we are busy. We rush, rush, rush. To the next event, to the next party, to the next charity event, to church, to school plays of the nativity, to shop to fill up under the tree with things we don’t need. We run, we hurry, we forget that we are supposed to be waiting.

No, not waiting for the baby, but waiting for the King. In this time of Christmas joy and cheer, we find so many less than hopeful. We rush right by the person who is lost and drowning in his or her own sea of despair. We have places to be, things to do, gifts to buy, Christmas love to share. But do we really?

After Jesus left, His disciples waiting anxiously for His return. Paul waited for His return, they wanted Him to come back. They were waiting, they were ready. One advent had passed, they looked for the second.

But not us modern disciples. We do not long for heaven because we are so in love with the world. Our hearts are not waiting for His advent. We are too steeped in the trappings of this world to be waiting for the next one. Our waiting should be proclaiming. We were left to build His kingdom,instead we build our own.  

We do not know when His advent will be, but we do know it will happen. What is the point of building up a lifetime of waste and regret, when we could be building up a kingdom of followers who will enter into eternity beside us?

Waiting is hard. But we know that anything that really matters is going to be hard. Do the hard thing…wait eagerly for His Advent.

“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently,” –Romans 8:23-25

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.”—1 Corinthians 3:10-12

 

day 4 of advent–the end for which we wait

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sometimes all you have to offer up is brokenness

and when all your best is nothing but messy shards, how do you find Christmas in it all?

Cause sometimes all we are, all we have, is a big, ugly, broken mess.

Smiling faces and happy families on all the Christmas cards,

Perfect snowflakes falling at just the right angle to catch the camera light,

And Christmas cheer and peace on earth and joy to the world

And everyone else is dancing in the sun and you just shrink into the shadows…

You and all your broken mess.

Lay it down in front of Him, it’s your only offering right now, and that’s okay.

He wants it. He asks for it. He said He could handle the rough edges and the ugly parts and the dirty places that no one else wants to touch, that you want no one else to see.

Sometimes Christmas is about broken. Sometimes waiting for Him is all we can do in the brokenness.

Sometimes the world is just too much and we long for something more.

Bring him your broken, hold on, He is coming. His advent is almost here…

He promised He would return and He promised that this world would stay broken and us in it…

But we have this Hope that is not of ourselves, this Hope that He has overcome the world, and that He can overcome our brokenness.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

day 3 of advent–the end for which we wait

IMG_0156(I love this Nativity Scene at Jamestown Presbyterian…everyone is bowing to Jesus!)
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Everybody worships something.

Christians say they worship Jesus. But too many times, sadly, their lives do not really back up that claim. Oh, let’s get real: I’m talking about me. I dare not point my finger at others without examining my own heart. And in fact, I don’t need to worry about what anyone else does. I only need to worry about me.

And I worship a lot of things that are not Jesus.

I bow my knee to things of this world.

I give my allegiance to things that are set against God. I give my allegiance to myself.

But as we wait for His advent…His final coming in victory, we remember that,

“at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” –Philippians 2:10-11.

He promises us that one day everyone in all of creation, those still alive and those who have passed, will, at His coming, bow their knee. For those who bow the knee in this life, Paradise awaits. For those who do not, the alternative is eternity separated from Him. But make no mistake, EVERY knee WILL bow, regardless of what one believes in this life, no matter what one chooses to worship, or not worship, Jesus’ name will be proclaimed by all.

Let us use the time from now until His advent to proclaim His name. While we long for His return, we have work to do on earth. I need this truth to be my life, I need His name to be ready on my lips. We wait for His Advent, not just the weeks before we celebrate His birth, but the end for which we wait…

day 2 of advent–the end for which we wait

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the end of time.” Daniel 12:2-3 

The book of Daniel in the Old Testament speaks a lot about the coming of the Messiah…both His first entrance into the world as a man, and His second entrance as the King of All. Daniel was a man who knew about waiting. Thrust into exile because of an unbelieving and unrepentant Israel, Daniel was a man who feared God and served Him faithfully. And he waited. He waited to return to his homeland and he waited for God’s Promised One.

Like Isaiah, who foretold the coming of the Christ, Daniel never lived to see the long awaited Messiah, the hope of Israel. But he saw farther into the future and spoke of the ultimate return.

Today’s passage foreshadows what will later appear in Revelation. It promises eternal life to those who believe, to those whose name is written in the book of life. It promises a not so pleasant end for those who do not believe.

Jesus came to shine light in the darkness. He left us here to shine on. We must be the voice and the light that cuts through the darkness so that all people may hear and have the chance to believe in the Promised King who has come and will come again.

The world in which we live is not getting better. Death, destruction, hate, and godlessness abounds more and more every day. But when the darkness is greater, the light shines brighter.

During this advent season, do not be afraid to shine in the darkness so that all people might have the chance to hear and believe that the King will come again.
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1st day of advent–the end for which we wait…

IMG_0083 IMG_0087Before houses and stores and hotels and inns were equipped with electricity, around the world, candles were placed in windows. A candle in the window said that someone was home, often times waiting. Waiting for the return of a love one, waiting for a guest, or waiting for news.  Other times, the candle meant that someone of great honor was visiting the house or establishment, and other times it meant a birth was being announced. Now, even with electricity, during Christmas, many windows boast shining candles. For most people who place candles in their windows, they probably don’t think they are saying anything with this simple gesture.

But we, who are called by Him, know we place candles in the windows as we wait for His advent.

Isaiah 64:1-2; 4

“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—

As when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—

To make your name known to your adversaries,

And that the nations might tremble at your presence!

From of old no one has heard, or perceived by the ear,

No eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.”

The prophet Isaiah, centuries before Christ was born, begged God to tear back the curtain that separated man from heaven, reveal Himself to all creation, and set the world aright, causing those who opposed Him to tremble and quake.

Isaiah was waiting for God to come in flesh and save Israel. But he never lived to see the advent of the Messiah, never lived to see God rend the heavens and step into humanity.

And now, 2000 years later, we are waiting again.

The Christmas season begins today and reminds us that we are waiting still. Waiting for God to rend the heavens and step into humanity. Only, the next time He does, it will not be meekly and mildly; His return will be with fire and earthquakes and trumpets and everyone will bow their knee.

The prophets of old who spoke of the Messiah to come, not only spoke of the baby to be born in Bethlehem, but they also looked further into the future and hinted at His ultimate return, when all of broken creation will be made whole again. The eschaton, the fancy theological name for the end of all things on earth and the triumphal return, was heralded by the ancients, not of the Christ-child, but of the Christ-King,

He has come once, that advent was over 2000 years ago. And He will come again, not in humbleness and gentleness, but in victory and might. That is the end for which we who are called by his name await.