It is hard to believe that December is almost here. We pulled our Christmas decorations out of the attic this weekend, turned on holiday music and transformed our interior and exterior decorations. We even indulged in a couple of holiday movies. It was a festive time for our family. We began our month-long celebration of Christmas. But Christmas is not yet here. It does not arrive until December 25. It may be more accurate to say that we began the anticipation of Christmas.
This Sunday, we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is not Christmas. Advent is the season of anticipation prior to Christmas. We often lose sight of this as we have succumbed to cultural understandings of the holiday season. Yet, we should learn to live in Advent. This year, we will follow the lectionary passages during Advent. This year’s texts point to the second coming of Jesus. We will spend four Sundays considering the urgent and expectant posture of Scripture regarding Jesus’s return.
While various interpretations have confused the matter, Scripture is clear that Jesus will return. This week, we will look at Jesus’s description of his return; next week, we will consider Paul’s writings to the Philippians about Christ’s return. How do we make sense of such a complex issue? When is it going to happen? How will it unfold? What clues do we have in Scripture about it? How are we to respond to Scripture’s teaching?
It would take pages to unpack these questions. I will not attempt such a feat. Yet, I will point to Jesus’s advice to us; we are instructed toward a particular posture. Jesus warns,
(Luke 21:34 NIV) Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
What is Jesus saying? The word dissipation describes a drunken headache, a hangover. Hangovers make it difficult to focus on work or chores. No doubt, the alcohol steals our attention. Jesus understands the impairment of worldly anxieties. He knows that we have the tendency to be tipsy on the cares of this world. They prevent our urgency, our anticipation of Jesus returning. When is the last time you thought about Jesus’s return? I have to admit that His coming does not often receive my focus. I seldom concentrate on Jesus’s promise to return. Yet, Scripture writers put intense emphasis on Jesus’s return. Jesus tells us to
(Luke 21:36 NIV) Be always on the watch, and pray
May we learn to share this anticipation. May we shake off the hangover of worldly anxieties. May we clearly look toward Jesus’s return with expectancy. I hope you will join as we worship in the season of Advent. I pray that our engagement of these texts will enlighten Jesus’s promise and our prayer,
(Revelation 22:20 ESV) “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!