Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Dear friends in Christ,
Advent is here. It is a time of waiting. When I was a child, I thought that Advent was a time of waiting because I had to wait for Christmas morning to arrive so I could open the presents under the tree. But as I grew, it became clear that during Advent we do not wait for Christmas, we wait for Christ. Advent is the season where we remember that our lives as Christians are lives of waiting for Christ.
During Advent, we remember our Old Testament brothers and sisters, who waited (See Hebrews 11). God had promised to send the Messiah. They believed Him. They waited for Jesus to be born. Most of them died before He came. But they died in faith, sustained by God, and they were saved. During Advent, we remember that we stand in a long, long line of people who have waited upon God. That is exactly what we should be doing, for God is faithful.
During Advent, we also remember that Christ was born, that He came and fulfilled the promises He made. He was born of the Virgin Mary. He did crush the serpent’s head when He died on the cross. He did rise again and conquer death. He has made us His own in baptism. He does come to us every day in His Word and in the Sacraments and gives us forgiveness and peace and hope and love and all the gifts of salvation.
Advent is a time of remembering that God kept His word. That is why it is not wrong for us to remember the events of Jesus’ birth during Advent. While it is good for us to wait until Christmas to celebrate His birth together, the fact that He kept His promise is at the heart of why we wait for Him.
But there is one more promise He has yet to fulfill. He promised to return on the Last Day. He will raise the dead, and take us home to heaven. He promised. He will come. As believers in Christ we are those who wait for His Advent – His coming again.
Jesus is faithful to His promise, so we wait for His return faithfully. He speaks to us in His Word, and by that Word the Spirit keeps us in His light and truth.
Jesus promises good to us, and the Spirit keeps us strong in faith despite the troubles, temptations, and trials of this life. So, we wait for His return hopefully, enduring the long journey by being sustained in the Word and Sacraments.
Jesus loves us. The Father so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save us. Jesus lived a life of love, so that we would know that as He loved the people around Him in His day, so He loves us in our day. The Spirit draws us to believe that He loves us. And since He has loved us, and lives in us, we wait for His return lovingly, encouraging one another by gentle words and compassionate deeds, to be strong until He comes.
Advent is a time of waiting. Wonderful waiting. Beautiful waiting. Joyful waiting. Enduring waiting. Waiting with believers in our day, just as believers in the past joined together to wait. Waiting filled with the peace of Christ, and the comfort of His mercy and the strength of His love. We do not wait alone. We wait with the other believers God has joined to Himself in this place. And we wait with Christ, for He promised that He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). So even while we wait for His return, we are not alone.
Jesus said, “Surely I am coming soon.” And we reply, with the Advent saints of every generation, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20) A blessed Advent to you!