Rethinking Advent – The Coming of Jesus
Advent provides us with the time and space to express our hope concretely as we focus on Jesus, who is the source of our hope. Let’s reconsider the meaning and relevance of Advent in our lives.
Hurt and Hope: Two Realities of Life
Let’s acknowledge two intertwined realities of life – hurt and hope. Hurt, often more explicitly expressed than hope, tends to captivate our attention. However, Advent reminds us to shift our focus and express our hope more concretely. As we journey through this season, we fix our gaze on Jesus, who is the embodiment of our hope.
Understanding Advent: From Waiting to Preparing
What exactly is Advent, and what does it have to do with the coming of Jesus? Advent, derived from a Latin word meaning “coming,” initially centered around the early church’s anticipation of Jesus’ return. However, it soon evolved to also encompass the preparation for the birth of Jesus. Thus, Advent encompasses two aspects – the celebration of Jesus’ first coming in Bethlehem and the anticipation of his second coming in the future.
Reframing Advent: The Fusion of Birth and Second Coming
Over time, the focus of Advent has predominantly shifted towards the birth of Jesus, merging the two advents into one. Although the original intention was to prepare for the coming of Jesus, the preparation has become more synonymous with preparing for Christmas rather than specifically preparing for Jesus. This merging has led us to an opportunity for reevaluation and rethinking the true significance of Advent in our lives.
The Certainty of Jesus’ Return
Regardless of our differing views on the intricacies surrounding Jesus’ return, one thing remains certain – Jesus is coming again. While the details may elude us, the certainty of his return provides us with a foundation of hope. As we rethink Advent and the coming of Jesus, we must anchor ourselves in this truth.
Mark’s Story: Unveiling the Coming of Jesus
To gain deeper insights into the coming of Jesus, we turn to Mark’s story. Mark vividly paints a picture of Jesus’ coming using imagery that expresses fear and dread. It is important to remember that Mark’s description should not be taken solely as literal events. Instead, the imagery serves to convey the gravity of the situations faced by the people of that era, capturing their fears and anguish.
The Tension of Darkness and Light
Mark’s story reminds us that in the face of darkness and despair, the hope of Jesus shines through. The imagery of cosmic events serves as a metaphor for the upheaval and chaos experienced by society. However, at the heart of Mark’s story lies liberation and the shattering of oppressive systems. Jesus’ coming offers a profound disruption to our comfort and convenience, shaking us out of complacency.
Living in the In-Between: Waiting and Actively Engaging
As we enter the Advent season, our posture can no longer be one of passive waiting. We must be active participants in the anticipation of Jesus’ coming. This means recognizing Jesus in our everyday relationships and interactions, being vigilant and alert to his presence. Advent challenges us to watch, pray, and be aware of our actions, thoughts, and surroundings.
Reimagining Jesus’ Coming: A Paradigm Shift
The second coming of Jesus invites us to reimagine our understanding of the world. It prompts us to consider that this current world is not the ultimate destination, but rather a preparation for a new world. Our preparation involves acknowledging the tension between darkness and light, despair and hope. This newfound awareness compels us to bold honesty, openness to new life, and a readiness to embrace the new world that God is creating.
Watch, Pray, and Be Ready
Mark’s emphasis on watching resonates throughout his story. The repetition of the word “watch” serves as a reminder to stay vigilant and attentive. It urges us to seek guidance, strength, and wisdom through prayer, allowing us to recognize Jesus in our daily lives. The coming of Jesus, whether in clouds of glory or our next human encounter, calls us to be active participants in his redemptive mission.
In the rethinking of Advent, we find a renewed sense of purpose and expectation. We live each day as if Jesus is coming today, recognizing his presence in those around us and the circumstances we face. Advent is not merely a season of waiting but a time for active engagement and restoration. As we journey through this Advent season, may we reorient our hearts, minds, and actions towards the coming of Jesus, embracing the hope that he brings and becoming conduits of that hope in the world.