Advent is Coming
Advent is coming. I love that thought. Advent is coming. And yet it has been. It has been last year and the year before and the year before that and the year before... We have celebrated Advent for century upon century. So the weeks of Advent remind me, no - remind US, that we dwell in an amazing true story, an astonishing history. It is an historical narrative in which the Creator of everything intervened in history for the sake of all creation. And the celebration of this particular intervention by the Creator coming to humanity we call Advent. Furthermore our remembering Advent year after year prior to Christmas forms us. It forms us through recollection of the faithfulness of our Creator who also happens to be the Covenant God of Israel. Through two millenia prior to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, Yahweh "wed" Israel as it were, for the sake of the nations. Scriptures such as Exodus 19:1-6 and Ezekiel 16 echo this emphasis. The election of Israel was purposeful. It was election within the Creator's purposes for the created order. Exodus 19:3-6 Then Moses went up to God; Yahweh called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.” Among all the nations Israel was to be a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. Their callings had purpose among the nations. And Yahweh who liberated them would rule forever and ever (Exodus 15:18). But Israel failed and ended up wanting a king and rejecting Yahweh (1 Samuel 8). And over centuries Israel went its own way under predominantly unruly kings. Eventually they again were enslaved by new foreign "pharaonic" rulers for over 700 years - the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Greek influenced Ptolemy rule, the Greek influenced Seleucid Rule, the Romans. Israel was again enslaved echoing their sojourn in Egypt through 700 plus years from the time of Assyria's invasion. The Jews were in exile as foreign kings ruled. And according to the prophets, exile from the presence of Yahweh in their land, in the temple, was punishment for their sins. Prophets announce Israel was enslaved to sin, absent from the presence of Yahweh in the temple. Evil dominated them. They no longer had their own anointed king ruling them. And Israel wanted the presence of the Creator Covenant God to once more be manifest to the world through a true King of the Jews ruling the covenant people of Yahweh. So the Jewish people awaited God's salvation. They wanted their own anointed leader to rule. We call that person, Messiah, which is the English sound of the Hebrew word meaning anointed. They wanted their anointed king to show Israel was forgiven their sins that had led to exile. They wanted their anointed king to defeat evil rule over them. They wanted all to know the presence of Yahweh indwelt the Temple as their anointed king ruled. They awaited the day this all would come. That was the context in which Jesus of Nazareth was born. And in the conception and birth of Jesus - that first advent - the rule of Israel's God returning to Israel is enacted. It started with a pregnancy and a baby being born. But that coming of the King of the Jews was not like the Jewish people thought it would be. Oh yes a king came but he was born into a poor family. His life was to ensure a new covenant where a covenant people would know they were forgiven their sins, that they were no longer exiled from the fellowship of God. This anointed king ensured a people no longer in exile from Yahweh through Jesus being present. His life announced the inbreaking of the Kingdom rule of God. And his death and resurrection was the means by which humanity became included in divine fellowship, in the rule of King Jesus. His resurrection and ascension and the formation of the church at Pentecost vindicated all Jesus said and did. He rules today. New Creation has started. Through the Spirit a new temple dwelling is present. And we are called to participate in making known to principalities and powers the defeat of evil through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth. And in celebrating Advent we are reminded of the whole story of the purposes of God's first coming in the birth of Jesus Christ. We, as disciples of Christ, are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are to confront where evil is present in the world through words and deeds of witness to Jesus. And as we celebrate Advent where the Son of God became Incarnate the first time, we acknowledge in glorious hope that there will be a time when the exalted Lord Jesus comes again. And so in Advent we celebrate the first coming and anticipate another coming - another Advent. Have A Happy Advent Season. For every knee shall bow. There is now a new temple, a new dwelling place of God among the covenant people who follow their new King. And in his life and death, and resurrection, the evil enemies of Yahweh, sin and death and the devil, have been defeated. And now Jesus followers are to announce the King of Israel rules. And as Peter declares 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Yes, we are about to celebrate Advent... Advent - remembering the King in announcing the already present and yet coming Kingdom. As I consider all that Advent will be this December I am reminded that in Advent we do two things. As followers of Jesus we celebrate the astonishing gift that is ours in the present, because of the past. And we live in the power of the Spirit, lives celebrating Divine indwelling presence anticipating now the future when Jesus will again come.
I started following Jesus in 1972 while a journalist for The Courier Mail. I moved overseas in 1977 living in China, the USA, the UK for a little under 30 years. I returned to Australia in 2005. I love being among the nations. I love study. I love encouraging the coming generations.