This Sunday marks the first Sunday of the Advent season.  Though historically neglected by many evangelicals, Advent has made a resurgence in recent years.  We will be updating and editing posts from previous years to celebrate the Advent season.

“Come, Lord Jesus.”  This is the prayer that we pray on the First Sunday of Advent.  It reminds us of the dual orientation of the Christian life:  we look forward to His coming as preparation to celebrate his Incarnation.

But why orient our minds and hearts around the second coming of Christ, especially now, at the start of the Christmas season?

In the book of Revelation, John describes the return of our Lord with triumphal imagery:  he shall ride on a white horse, with a sword in his hand.  The stirring image reminds us that the Jesus who died for our sins is the same Jesus who wishes to rid them from His world.  On that day, righteousness and peace shall finally kiss.   As we anticipate his coming, we are shaped to love his justice and to seek his righteousness for ourselves, and for the world around us.

At the root of our reflection on Advent is a question:  When he comes again, will we be on his side?  In reflecting on his judgment, we are invited to repent and return to the God who yet rules the world.  

Our reflection on his Advent, however, ought not be done ahistorically.  He will come again because he came once.  The two historical moments should not be separated, for they are a part of the same saving action by God.  The judgment of the world is the world’s redemption:  its salvation is its conviction.

It is our task to reflect on both realities, and to reflect upon them in the proper way.  In Advent, we look forward to the final judgment of the world, and tremble.  At Christmas, we look back to the redemption of the world, and rejoice.  The descent of God into the world at the Incarnation allows us to return to Him–and in that return, we learn to long for his vindication of his people and the rebirth of the world.

From our vantage point between these two historical moments, then, we perceive the decisive acts of God in history: the inaugaration of his Kingdom at the Incarnation (repent, for the Kingdom is at hand!), and the fulfillment of his Kingdom at his return to the earth (repent, for he comes to fulfill his judgment!).

Christ has come, and Christ will come again.  We stand where the comma lies: with sorrow for our sins, joy for their atonement, and with a holy longing for for his righteousness to cover the earth.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

3 Comments

  1. […] Last week, we were reminded that the Advent season is a time of looking forward to the return of Christ just as much as a time of looking back to the first coming, the Incarnation. Seeing the present in light of the future allows us to conform our lives to the goal towards which we are striving. However, the apostle Paul also reminds us that we can see, and be encouraged about, the final coming together of all things by remembering the works of God in the history of His people: […]

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  2. And for those who have an iPhone, my company – iHabitus ( http://www.ihabitus.com ) has released an app called Advent08 – http://tinyurl.com/advent08 It has a litury/devotion for each day in advent, complete with classical art, hymns, scripture, prayers and meditations all delivered in a beautiful visual style reminiscent of the old hand-copied, ornate Bibles.

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  3. […] Links Posted in December 1st, 2008 by Storms in Advent, Christmas, Worship The Rabbit Room & Mere Orthodoxy are a couple blogs that will be posting posts specific to advent.  I’m subscribing to both […]

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