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.