Image: Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

We should each make one firm decision right now, even before we finish reading this reflection. Let us all agree that we are going to make this the single best Advent of our entire lives. 

Go ahead, just say it to yourself. “I am absolutely committed to making this the best Advent of my life.”

There now, that was easy enough.

Of course this commitment may now lead to questions regarding what Advent is really all about. It is understandable that there is confusion about this in our modern society.

First, many people believe what we are currently in is the Christmas Season, but that doesn’t actually begin until Christmas day, December 25. Christmas, when it arrives, will usher in a time of peace, joy and celebration. 

But, unfortunately, our modern secular society immediately begins to put the symbols of Christmas away on December 26, during what is only the beginning of the Christmas Season. (More on this in later reflections)

But at the moment, we are in the season of Advent. So what does Advent mean? And if joy and celebration mark the season of Christmas, what is the principal theme and what should our disposition be for Advent.

Advent is the season of expectant waiting. We are in a time of preparation ― but preparation for what? Truthfully, any child in America can answer this question, as can children all across the globe. We are in a time of preparation and anticipation for the arrival of Jesus Christ.

But there is something most people really don’t know. There are actually three arrivals of Christ.

The first has already happened, this was when He arrived on earth as a child, conceived by the Holy Spirit and given birth by His mother Mary. This is what we call the Incarnation. Most people believe this is what we are waiting for and celebrating on Christmas Day. 

His third (yes third) arrival is what we call the Second Coming (It can be a bit confusing but stick with this). This Second Coming of Christ is what we call the Eschatological coming of Christ. This is that branch of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as “the end of the world” or “end times.”

But what we are concerned about in this Advent Season, is the middle arrival of Christ, the one where Christ comes to dwell in our hearts as believers.

Now truthfully, both Advent and Christmas focus on all three of these comings of Christ, but unfortunately, it is this middle arrival that is often overlooked, and yet, it is the most immediate and pertinent to our current lives.

What makes this middle arrival more obscure, is that it is a secret arrival, and it is only possible for those who truly desire it, seek it and wait for it with great expectancy. 

This middle arrival is simply not a reality for those who are not looking for it, who believe that somehow we are already living in this season of Christmas and that its culmination is the receipt of material gifts under a tree.

Now certainly there is nothing wrong with both our giving and receiving material gifts, but this experience we all had as children was meant to point to a larger reality as we grow into spiritually mature adults. We learn to wait with great expectation for that which we truly desire, and we come to understand the deeper, eternal meaning behind our desires. Even a Grinch can figure out the deeper meaning of this experience of waiting and arrival.

It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” (Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!)

Eventually we come to understand that there is really only one gift that matters, and it is this gift and this one alone that will bring about this middle arrival of Jesus Christ into our hearts.

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:22-23)

We should contemplate this verse very deeply, it does not refer to the arrival at someone’s home, like the family members who may visit us during the Holidays. It is more appropriate to associate this verse with the phenomena of a pregnancy. There are two reasons for this.

First, there is no such thing as being halfway pregnant, just as there is no such thing as being half a Christian. In fact, we would find this an awkward thing to try and be.

Second, Christ really does want to come and dwell within us with a new life different from the one we are experiencing today, one that is more full of all that He promised, peace, joy, and the beginning of an eternal celebration. 

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b)

This life is His life, the one He enjoys with the Father, and it is something we can experience now. We should take the Lord at His word when He tells us His arrival in our hearts is something the world could never give. The following are the most comforting words ever spoken, not just because of what they promise, but because of who is making the promise ― Jesus.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

This is what we wait for expectantly, the complete removal of all fear, the elimination of troubled hearts, the indwelling experience of Peace, and the assurance of God’s eternal promise.

Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. (Isaiah 3:10)

This is not a promise delayed until after we transition into eternal life, it is available for each of us today. This time of Advent, this time of preparation and waiting requires great expectancy (Hope) great trust (faith) and great desire (Love).

Please pray that we might all begin this Season of Advent with a genuine desire to make it the best Advent of our lives, and that each of us might fulfill that desire.

God Bless

Copyright © Mark Danis

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