"Pay attention to Me, O My people,
And give ear to Me, O My nation;
For a law will go forth from Me,
And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples.
My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth,
And My arms will judge the peoples;
The coastlands will wait for Me,
And for My arm they will wait expectantly.
Lift up your eyes to the sky,
Then look to the earth beneath;
For the sky will vanish like smoke,
And the earth will wear out like a garment
And its inhabitants will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not wane.
Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
A people in whose heart is My law;
Do not fear the reproach of man,
Nor be dismayed at their revilings.
For the moth will eat them like a garment,
And the grub will eat them like wool.
But My righteousness will be forever,
And My salvation to all generations."
Isaiah 51:4-8 (NASB)
Hymn: "Lo! He Comes, An Infant Stranger" Richard Mant
Advent is not just about waiting. I mean, that's basically what's on the label, waiting for Christ's second coming, waiting for Christmas, understanding a bit of Israel waiting for her messiah. Advent looks backward and forward, and not only acknowledges the importance of waiting, but the importance of understanding that God fulfills His promises.
God promised that He would send a redeemer through the line of Eve, that the world would be blessed through Abraham's seed, that He would make a covering for sin. Christmas is a celebration of God fulfilling His promises. During Advent, we remember that He has been faithful in all things so far, and will continue to be faithful to see all His words come to pass.
We must take seriously what it means that He will judge the world, that all we know will pass away, but those of us who trust in His salvation shall be secure. This Advent, we must look at the people around us and know that they will either be with God or they will face true, comprehensive judgement. We are so used to fighting over the commercialization of Christmas that we don't even argue in the public square anymore whether or not it should be commercialized, but that it isn't being commercialized properly. The Christmas cups are written wrong, the cashier said "happy holidays" to me instead of "merry Christmas" while I was out putting myself into debt to meet our culture's demands. Our culture is so far removed from looking at Christ during Advent that we think these little battles we've picked are more important than loving that cashier, than helping a barista bear the weight of their life, than asking how we can use this season to show the world that the empty promises of Black Friday sales and Hallmark Christmas movies pale in comparison to the God who really will do exactly what He says.
People around us are hurting this season. Some people reading this may be hurting this season. They are hurting from broken promises, from the curse of death on this world, from families who cannot or will not see the pain they've caused and seek restoration. How would the world around us change if we made this season about sitting with them in their pain, entering into their mess like Christ entered ours, and pointing them to the God who keeps His promises and conquers death and loves with an everlasting and unconditional love?
I cried out to You, O LORD;
I said, "You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.
Give heed to my cry,
For I am brought very low;
Deliver me from my persecutors,
For they are too strong for me.
Bring my soul out of prison,
So that I may give thanks to Your name;
The righteous will surround me,
For You will deal bountifully with me."
Psalm 142:5-7 (NASB)
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation