What do you know about Advent?
Maybe you now attend or were raised in a church that follows the liturgical calendar. If you’re like me, however, your impression of Advent is that it’s a season to light candles and sing carols in churches that are beautifully decorated for Christmas.
In other words I had no clue about the real emphasis of Advent, despite having read through many Advent devotionals through the years.
These past two Advent seasons have been different because I’ve been reading out of Advent: The Once & Future Coming of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge, who understands and explains the doctrinal importance of Advent to novices like me.
The church cultures that I’ve been part of largely ignore difficult and maybe even depressing sections of scripture. We like the encouraging and positive (and who doesn’t?), and so we tend to focus on what feels good, lightly brushing over anything depressing. But to be true to the Word of God, we have no choice but to balance both truths—we are broken and sinful, but Jesus forgives and saves. Unless we understand that sin pervades our hearts and grips the entire world, we miss how good the news of the gospel is and forget how desperately we believers need Jesus to come and rescue us today.
This fall the women at our church studied Judges, which records some really depressing historical events caused by the sin and failures of God’s own people. They can be difficult to read and process, but the accounts of weak, sinful and foolish judges help us understand that no earthly leader can solve our problems. We need the presence of Jesus.
Advent is a time of remembering our sinfulness and repenting before God. It embraces the longing for a better world free of sin and death. It’s a time of darkness as we wait for the Light to come and shine among us, those who live between the two advents.
This season reminds us of the faith of the Old Testament Jews who trusted and waited for their King to come. We, like them, exist in a time of waiting for Jesus to return and save us from a dark world—for the Light to shine among us and make all things new.
I hope you’ll have time over the next three weeks to read/pray/confess along those lines–that WE need to repent because WE, and the whole world with us, are broken and only Jesus can fix it.