And still, I find myself unprepared. Perhaps it is the desert through which I have wandered that has dulled my sight, making me not trust the visions before me, as if the coming of Advent has been a mirage. And yet here we are, in the first week of Advent, and I wonder how it came upon me.
Advent is not usually observed in my faith tradition, and most of my friends look at me blankly when I speak of it. I have found in my own journey, however, that observing the Christian calendar grounds me, and gives me a wider perspective; it is as if somehow my peripheral vision is clearer when I can live for a faith-purpose, rather than just stumbling blindly through daily existence. So the coming of Advent is for me the beginning of a new year -- a renewal of waiting for that for which I long the most. It is a reminder of who I am, and to Whom I belong. Tonight, as I lit my first Advent candle a day late, I nearly wept -- I had almost lost my sight.
I long for His return. I feel like I have suffered from over-exposure; I am battered, my vision is no longer clear, and I have struggled to trust and hold on to the promises I cannot often see. Yet I suppose this is what waiting and faith are truly about: hanging on. The mirage I saw in the desert was reality and I can begin again, for I know Whose I am:
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He will delight in obeying the Lord.
He will not judge by appearance
nor make a decision based on hearsay.
He will give justice to the poor
and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
He will wear righteousness like a belt
and truth like an undergarment.
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.
For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.
When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
The good news: He is coming back. HE IS COMING BACK, and Christmas will remind us. The story of redemption is true. We must remember, and remind ourselves of our inheritance. We are not stuck in hell; rather, we are the Kingdom.
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.
~1 John 3:1-2
Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
~1 Corinthians 13:12
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the peace of Christ be with you, as we await His glorious return. May He come quickly.