For me, this season leading up to Christmas (what’s called “Advent”) has been more exciting than ever. I think this is for two reasons:
1) I learned for the first time that the church has historically looked at Advent as a time to anticipate Jesus’ second coming. I always thought that Advent was designed to remember Jesus’ birth–and that is definitely part of it. But the earlier generations of the church looked at Advent as a chance to anticipate his coming. They thought to themselves, “What if Jesus came back again on Christmas day? Would I be ready?” This approach has made this Advent season much more reverent and Christ-centered.
2) This past year I’ve done quite a bit of study on the big-picture story of redemption. Through books like The Drama of Scripture and Salvation Belongs to Our God, I’ve discovered that God’s ultimate design is not just to save individuals, but to redeem and restore all things to the way he originally created them. This means that the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced will culminate in his return and in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
These two things have added a real richness to Christmas and an anticipation for the Age to Come. This is summarized well in a few lines from “Glory Be” a Christmas song put out by Sojourn Community Church in Louisville (click here for other free songs from their “Advent Songs” album).
Hallelujah, the Lord of Life has come,
To reconcile the nations to their God!
Hallelujah, He’s coming back again,
To finish what began in Bethlehem!
May our hearts sing for joy not only that the child has come to set us free, but that he’s coming back again to renew and restore his world!