Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a fancy word that means “coming” or “arrival.”
For some, this is the beginning of a 29 day journey of reflection, preparation, and celebration. For others, this is an unknown tradition that seems to get in the way of Christmas.
For me, I have fond memories of advent as I grew up in the tradition of the Lutheran church. I don’t recall a lot of specific things, but I do remember having a sense of wonder and awe. It was almost as if advent was a way of extending Christmas by starting it four weeks early.
As I’ve been reflecting on this over the past week or so I realized that advent was solely focused on the anticipation of Christmas Day and remembering that Jesus was born without much attention given to our hope that Jesus is coming again.
I am more an more aware that we are now living in an in-between time. In our past is the birth of Jesus (his first advent), and in the future is Jesus’ return to establish the Kingdom of God in all its fullness (his second advent).
As important as it is to remember the birth of Jesus, I find myself this year desiring to step back enough to be aware and join in the celebration of Jesus’ first coming, but to also engage my mind and the hope that is within me that all of God’s promises will be reality in the age to come so that I can embrace this time of preparation for Jesus’ second coming.
Advent is filled with a variety of themes. Typically the theme of the first Sunday of Advent and the week that follows is HOPE. When I consider this idea of hope within the story of God I can’t help but be drawn to the hope that God continuously stirred in the hearts of his people as they awaited God’s Messiah, the Anointed One, who would come and lead them out of darkness and into a glorious light where he would reign and rule as King.
Consider the following few verses from Peter’s first letter found in the New Testament:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5
These three verses are filled with a ton of exciting things for us to unpack together. I’m hopeful in the days to come to take a look at some of these themes in a more detail. But for today we’re simply noticing that because God raised Jesus from the dead we too can have hope, a living hope, that we too will be raised from the dead when Jesus returns.
Today I am asking God to stir within me a living hope and an anticipation of Jesus’ second advent when he ushers in the fullness of the Kingdom of God and we, as the people of God, receive the promised inheritance.