What is ADVENT?
It’s a noun. Singular, not plural.
It is secularly and generally defined* as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” For example, this sentence: With the advent of cellar phones our ability to find solitude has almost entirely disappeared.
Other definitions include:
- “the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.”
- And, in “Christian Theology the coming or second coming of Christ.”
Its etymology: it’s “Old English, from Latin adventus ‘arrival’, from advenire, from ad- ‘to’ + venire ‘come’.”
So, here we are in the ADVENT season. I’m preaching an ADVENT sermon series all this month. But what is it? What is ADVENT?
Well, it’s a period of time set aside to commemorate and celebrate the first arrival of Christ among us. Christmas!
Of course, He didn’t stay very long. Only 33.5 years after His birth He returned to heaven from which He had come. But, He promised to come again. He promised another ADVENT. We call it the 2nd coming of Christ. We pray for it: “Thy kingdom come.”
But wait, was the spiritual operation of the conception of Christ really the first ADVENT? Was His birthday really the first time men had seen Him?
Unto us a child is born, but unto us a Son is given. He became a child. He has always been the Son. And He had by no means kept Himself hidden for 4,000 years as He awaited His incarnation.
“Abraham rejoiced to see my day. And, He saw it. And was glad.” These words Jesus spoke. Plus this, “Before Abraham was, I am.” We claim and affirm the eternal deity of Christ. I claim and affirm MANY theophanies of Christ in the Old Testament. Yet I have no problem with the terms 1st and last (or 2nd) ADVENTS of Christ.
Paul wrote, “Great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh.” When He revealed Himself to mankind on that quiet night in Bethlehem, there was a fitting disturbance. The angels reported it and rejoiced. The shepherds believed and worshipped. The wise men noticed the star and began a 2 year pilgrimage. Joseph and Mary began to rear the One and Only Perfect Child ever to be birthed into the human race. God loved the world so much that He gave to us His One and Only eternal Son. This is worthy of our attention and admiration. It is fitting that we change our music, redecorate our houses, buy presents, throw parties, wear particular colors, light candles, pray special prayers, preach seasonal sermons, and reread particular passages of Scripture.
And indeed, we are simultaneously looking for Him to come again. Both the rapture of His church and the conquering of His enemies are marvelous promises yet to be realized in the future. Still, we are not just waiting for His next ADVENT. He has come to us by His Spirit in this intervening period of history (between His 2 obvious and public ADVENTS). The Day Star has arisen already in our hearts (1 Peter 1:19).
The kingdom is coming. Heaven will touch the earth. This world will be transformed. Yet while we wait for that full reality, we have it now as well. The kingdom of God is in us. He has already arrived in us. And this is worth celebrating as much (or more) than His 1st ADVENT. He told His disciples that it was needful for Him to go away. He said that The Comforter (The Holy Spirit) could not come until He (the physical Christ) had departed. He was WITH His disciples. But now He is IN His disciples.
Embrace the season of ADVENT. Pray for the 2nd/last ADVENT. But submit to the Spirit of Christ in you every day of the year. His presence is as real in His church as it will be in the Kingdom. And, as we declare the gospel of His grace we are participating in the expansion of His current pentecostal ADVENT.
*definitions taken from the Dictionary app. Version 2.3.0 (268). Copyright © 2005–2020 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
**this will probably be the last pastoral blog entry of 2020. Everyone’s schedule fills up pretty thickly in December. I will plan to resume in January when (hopefully) everyone’s schedule returns to some semblance of normalcy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!