Having survived Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the close of the Mayan calendar, we are quickly approaching the end of the Advent season. During the four weeks before Christmas, amongst our gift wrapping, goody baking and tree decorating, we sometimes light the candles in a wreath and tell the story of the birth of Christ. The word “advent” means coming, so it is an appropriate title for the time when we look forward to our celebration of the day that He came:
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.” (Luke 2:1-14)
The material and spiritual focus of Christmas is on humanity. No wonder we look forward to celebrating it. The Lord of the Universe set aside His robes of light in order to put on our failing flesh, relinquishing the glorious riches of eternity to be born into our poverty, He put off the visible sonship of the Great I Am in order to assume the humble guise of a fatherless infant. His coming that first Christmas cost Jesus everything. Yet, like small children, we look toward Christmas with glee and cry, “Come!”
But there is another advent yet to be. At that coming, the veil will fall away, and we will see His glory concealed no longer, the glory of a King returning to rescue His imprisoned bride, to seize His throne and take His kingdom. The One who gave all, coming to claim all. Listen to the advent of the future:
Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. And the one sitting on the horse was named Faithful and True. For he judges fairly and then goes to war. His eyes were bright like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him, and only he knew what it meant. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword, and with it he struck down the nations. He ruled them with an iron rod, and he trod the winepress of the fierce wrath of almighty God. On his robe and thigh was written this title: King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev. 19:11-16)
This year, while you are returning the Christmas gifts which were too small, the wrong color or just astonishingly ill-chosen, while you are ruing those five extra pounds and putting away twenty, tangled strands of twinkle lights, reserve some quiet space to remember that we are still living in the Advent season. Remember that the best is yet to be. And with the enthusiasm of hostages awaiting their redeemer, let us continue to cry, “Come!”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let each one who hears them say, “Come.” He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:17, 20)