This coming Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent season. I love this time of the year. Beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas, the church since the fourth century has celebrated the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ by focusing attention on the Old Testament promise of His coming, the realization of the promise in His Incarnation, and the blessed hope of our Lord’s Second Coming. Advent is designed to nurture in Christ’s church humble reverence and joyful longing.
Like last year, I am planning a special pulpit series for Advent. I’m calling it, Advent Longing. Throughout Advent we will consider the revelation of Jesus Christ (John 1:14-18), the triumph of Christ (Colossians 2:13-15), our shameless hope (Romans 5:1-5), and our heavenly home (Philippians 3:20-21).
We will also bring back our Advent wreath with the four candles around the outside of the evergreens and the one white candle in the center. The Advent wreath is a beautiful symbol of the everlasting life that came when the Light of the World entered our sin-darkened existence.
As I type I’m listening to a wonderful rendition of one of my favorite oratorios, Handel’s Messiah. With heavenly beauty, Handel takes us through the Old Testament longings for Messiah (e.g., Behold, a Virgin Shall Conceive) to the wonder of the Incarnation (e.g., For Unto Us a Child is Born) to the horror of the cross (e.g., Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs) to the matchless power of the resurrection (e.g., Hallelujah) to the glorious Second Coming (e.g., The Trumpet Shall Sound). By the end Handel knew that everything in us wants to proclaim “Amen” to the glory of God!
Advent declares to the world the wonderful truth that Messiah has come. Indeed, God is with us. And so with humble reverence and joyful longing we sing, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20) and make all things new.