Some people have a hard time waiting.
Every year, it seems store’s the Christmas decorations come out earlier and earlier. This year it was the day after the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (Okay, maybe Halloween). Radio stations also cannot seem to restrain themselves from starting the rotation of holiday music.
Our family has rules. No lights get lit; no movies get watched; no tree goes up until after Thanksgiving. But then, it’s game on!! The countdown to Christmas is underway. When our kids were little, they could often be heard in their rooms around 4:30am Christmas morning talking and preparing for the mad dash to the tree. It’s a beautiful thing when expectation and excitement meet.
Advent is all about expectation.
This Sunday will begin the Advent season. During our service and services around the world, we will light the first Advent candle. We will also sing new and familiar songs focusing on the expectation of the Advent of Christ.
As we have been working our way through the book of Exodus, we have been journeying with the people of God as they experienced the story of their redemption. Their journey, as far as they knew, began when God rescued them out slavery in the land of Egypt and brought them to the Mount Sinai. They had been waiting (read: "experiencing expectation") for their slavery to end for a long time.
But they were joining a story of redemption already in progress. The story of redemption had not started with them, or with Joseph, or Jacob, or Isaac, or even Abraham. It had not even started with Noah. It had started in the beginning, with Adam and Eve.
Their expectation of redemption began after the fall. And, as the people of God stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, they could not have known that their expectation was not soon to end (at least not in full). It did not end with Joshua conquering the Promised Land, or even David becoming the unifying king.
Advent is all about the expectation of the coming of Jesus.
The long-awaited Messiah, who is Prophet, Priest, and King. The long-anticipated Christ, who came to take away the sins of the world. The long-expected Jesus who came to set the captives free. The birth of Jesus Christ was the answer to the cry of the Prophet Isaiah. “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down (Is. 64:1).”
During his earthly ministry, he not only proclaimed the good news of restoration in word, he announced the good news of restoration in deed. The blind - saw, the lame – walked, the deaf – heard, the mute – spoke, the outcast – were welcomed. And at his death, he atoned for our sins. It seemed as though their expectation was over. It was not.
Advent is all about the expectation of the second coming of Jesus.
We are reminded at Advent (or at least we should be) that the waiting is not over. There are still many blind, lame, deaf and outcast. There are still many struggling hard with the impact and effects of sin. There is still injustice in the world. There is still discord. There is still sickness and death. We are still waiting for full restoration.
The second Advent of Jesus will be the answer to the Psalmists question, “How long O’ Lord? (Psalm 13:1 and 94:3, and Habakkuk 1:2).” The second Advent will be the answer to the cry of John the Revelator, “Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:21).”
As Christians, we are all still waiting – still expecting. But most of us do so without excitement. Many days I really don’t think much about expectation. Not only that, I am rarely excited about the end of expectation and the Advent of full restoration. Shouldn't we be excited about the restoration of all things?
Dear Father, this Advent, please restore in me a deeper sense of expectation AND excitement.