Last Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, my favorite season of the church calendar. The word “advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “a coming, arrival”. During Advent we celebrate the coming of Jesus, God as flesh, into our world. For many years of my life, this is all I understood Advent to be – a time when we looked back on His first coming as a babe born in Bethlehem. While we ought to contemplate His first coming, we cannot stop there.
During Advent we also look to the future as we await the advent of our Lord when He returns in fullness of glory. This is a season of longing, as we yearn for the second coming of Christ. This longing truly hits home for me, as the burdens of the world impress themselves upon my heart. And yet, this yearning does not result in despair, because it is founded in hope – the hope in Christ’s promise that He will bring peace and restoration to our broken world. We find comfort in the midst of darkness because of our firm belief in Christ’s promised return.
Advent is also a season to remember Christ’s work within us at the present. The words, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” should reflect our heart’s desire for Christ to manifest himself daily in our lives. In the mist of brokenness, he provides us hope, moment by moment, because He is God with us now, through the indwelling of His Spirit.
In his poem, “O Emmanuel”, Malcolm Guite, beautifully captures the hope of the past, present, and future provided through the advent of Christ:
O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without,
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name
Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame,
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny hope within our hopelessness
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
To touch a dying world with new-made hands
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.
May you be filled with hope as you anticipate the coming of Emmanuel this Advent season.