“Advent” means arrival. This season looks ahead to Christmas, the miracle of God’s entrance into our world. We anticipate the baby born to die to redeem us from our sin.
Although Jesus arrived in a broken world marked by rebellion, division, and sorrow, the Jews found hope in a wealth of prophecies that the promised Messiah was indeed coming to deliver them from the darkness.
The gloom will be dispelled for those who were anxious.
In earlier times he humiliated
the land of Zebulun,
and the land of Naphtali;
but now he brings honor
to the way of the sea,
the region beyond the Jordan,
and Galilee of the nations.
The people walking in darkness
see a bright light;
on those who live in a land of deep darkness. (Isaiah 9:1-2)
We who live after the time of Jesus can now understand that the deliverance he brought then was spiritual, not physical. We still experience the same imperfect world as the Old Testament Jews.
But as we live in the here and now—the period between the advents, the time often called the already but not yet—we are people of hope. We look ahead to the return of the King and the eventual restoration of all things. One day there will be no more suffering and evil. God will make all things new.
Christmas is a very difficult time for many people. The season is a reminder of loss, hurt, hardship, and our aloneness as the culture feeds us messages of family, friendship, cheer and plenty. Advent may be particularly hard for you this year.
All followers of Jesus should mourn with our brothers and sisters over the hardships, injustice, abuse, poverty, sectarianism, political division, hatred, and death that we experience and see around us. We find ourselves crying out, "How long, O Lord?"
But the darkness gives us a longing for the light, and Advent is a season of hope. God is at work even in the darkness. The day will come when our God returns as King, dispelling all the darkness, and we live in his light forever.
And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever (Rev. 22:3-5).