Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
1 John 3:2-3
The season of Advent celebrates three comings of Christ: one future, one past, and one present.
Advent prepares our hearts for the second coming of Christ as we express gratitude to Christ for his first coming. Our hearts must must be prepared and ready for his return. Advent is a season of repentance for we know that Christ comes again in holiness, power, and judgment.
Advent leads us into deeper repentance: Christ comes now into our hearts by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Advent is a season of joy for we are grateful for Christ’s coming in the manger: the incarnation made the way for our salvation. Advent can be summarized as life of repentance leading to a present joy-filled, fresh experience of the risen Christ.
In preparation for the coming church year, we yearn for the transformation of our hearts. Advent waiting is the prayerful longing to see Jesus face-to-face and experience afresh God’s Holy Spirit pouring upon us in love and grace. Advent waiting is thankfulness for Christ’s first coming while eagerly expecting Christ’s second coming in glorious majesty. Advent waiting cleanses, converts and renews our hearts as we await Christ’s physical appearance in the skies.
In this present world, we endure while calmly trusting the Holy Spirit to be Christ in us in the midst of a fallen and decadent world. In hope, we look forward to seeing our blessed Savior face-to-face.
A summary of Robert Webber’s thoughts on Advent from his book, Ancient-Future Time:
Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
The Messiah’s coming is understood in three different senses: (1) His coming to earth in Bethlehem, (3) His second-coming at the consummation of God’s purposes and (3) His coming in the present moment into my life.
The coming of Messiah to me in this moment is predicated on repentance.
Repentance is not something we can take, but it must be granted us by God.
Isaiah is the prophet of Advent because in his life and prophetic word, he represented the hope of Advent.
John the Baptist and Mary, Jesus mother, reveal Advent spirituality: the former by his single-minded mission and self-giving love, the latter by her willingness to yield her life to God’s will.
Robert Webber, Ancient Future Faith: Forming Spirituality Through the Church Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004).
HT: Joel Willitts