Sometimes I feel as though we start playing make-believe in the Advent season. We ask ourselves to imagine what it would be like to live before the birth of Jesus as people waiting for a Messiah. We read the prophet Isaiah (9:6), “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” and try to summon the feelings we would have if this was ground-breaking news. But it is nearly impossible to push the manger from our minds or forget the cross and I don’t believe that we are meant to.
“Playing Old Testament” feels silly so we rush ahead through the solemn days of Advent to the celebration of Christmas. I don’t fault anyone for reveling in the joy of Christ coming to us. And yet, Advent is also a season of anticipation for the day when he will come to us again and remain with us as our true and perfect king. In a very real sense, the whole year, every single day, is always Advent until Jesus comes again.
The themes of the Advent season remind me that all is not well in the world and that we have no hope other than Jesus. This world needs a savior now! And I need the yearly reminder not to lose hope but to earnestly wait for his return. Throughout the New Testament we are directed to place all of our hope in the return of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:3, 1 Thes. 2:19). The daily cry of the Church is meant to be “Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus!”
Advent is the true spiritual condition of every Christian who longs for the return of Jesus. We are called to find ourselves in Jesus’ parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. There are ten bridesmaids waiting, left to search the darkness for the groom who will arrive at the home of his bride, as was the wedding custom. But only five of the bridesmaids were prepared with oil for their lamps, eagerly looking for the arrival of the groom, while the other five were foolishly caught unprepared with empty, dark lamps. While the foolish bridesmaids realize their crucial mistake and go into the darkness to find a merchant to sell them oil, the groom arrives and the wedding banquet begins. Because they did not prepare for the celebration the foolish bridesmaids are locked out in the dark night.
Jesus directs this parable specifically to you and to me, the Church the watches and waits for Christ’s return. Kindle desire in your hearts and to keep the flames of your lamp lit to watch for his return. When Jesus returns how will he find you? He is preparing a feast for us and the celebration will be unending when he comes for us (Rev. 19:6-9). Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour when he will return (Mat. 25:13).
Advent is a season of preparation that calls us to fix our hearts on Jesus and flee the distractions that lull us into contentment with the world as it is. Spend these days seeking the savior of the world who is coming for us. Take these Advent lessons and carry them with you through the year, because until he comes again it always Advent.