Advent: Arrival or Coming
We are familiar with Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, the journey of Ebenezer Scrooge as he is changed by visiting Christmas past, present and future. We, like Ebenezer, look to the past present and future as we observe Advent.
We look to Advent Past to celebrate the arrival of our Savior more than 2,000 years ago. We are familiar with that first arrival of Christ that we celebrate during this Christmas season.
We know the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets that were fulfilled at the miraculous birth of our Savior. A young virgin gave birth to a Son, the Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit.
This young Infant was whisked away by His parents to Egypt at the direction of an angel to avoid the murderous plans of Herod. They returned to Nazareth to raise their Son.
At age 12, they went to Jerusalem where this Boy amazed the leading teachers of the day with His insight into Scripture. And then He seemingly disappears until about age 30 when He begins preaching and bidding people to follow Him to become fishers of men.
He spent three years teaching these men and others the ways of the Kingdom of God. He steadfastly sought the will of our heavenly Father. He lived a perfect life while at the same time performing miracles that would inspire people to proclaim Him as Messiah.
After agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane about the unfolding events in front of Him, He once again submitted to the will of God and died on a cross for our sins and the sins of the world.
He was raised on the third day victorious over death and sin. These historic facts changed the course of history and have transformed countless lives.
We look to Advent Future and the coming arrival of Christ: His return. We don’t know all the facts of those events that have yet to take place.
We do know that He is coming again for His Church and to fulfill His promise that all who know Him as Lord and Savior will spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
These bookends of the Gospel story are two essential teachings of Christian belief and doctrine – the cornerstone of our Faith. These two Advents, or arrivals, of Christ Jesus compel us to hold fast to the salvation He affords all who follow Him.
But does Advent Past and Advent Future comprise the entire story of the arrival of Jesus Christ?
We are Advent Present. John 20:19-23 states: “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained’” (NASB).
The Children of Israel anxiously awaited Advent Past – that arrival of the Messiah that shook the foundations of history. Christians excitedly await Advent Future that will shake the foundations of the world.
Today, people are searching for Advent Present, an encounter with God that will shake the foundations of their lives. Advent Present was initiated by Jesus when He said: “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
He sends us into this world just as He was sent: humbly but with intentions to see the world changed by following God’s plan for our lives.
We are the present arrival of Jesus, proclaiming through our words and deeds the redemption that can be found in Christ Jesus. We extend Christ’s forgiveness to this world. Jesus said, “…The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” Matthew 9:37-38 (NASB).
Let’s be Advent Present, not only this Christmas, but throughout the year. When we go to work, to the ballpark or to school may people find in us the arrival of the peace, hope and forgiveness of Jesus.
When we are Advent Present, they can come to discover the arrival of their Advent present, the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.