Well it’s the worship season of Advent. Anyone else adore Advent?
It’s not just about the carols, with their beautiful words and haunting melodies. And it’s not only the lighting of the candles, one each week on the wreath until Christmas. Or some people name them, “hope”, “peace”, “love” and “joy”. Or that the third is a different color from the rest, often rose pink. It’s not only about the way we decorate trees and the sparkle. It’s not that we spend extra energy on the poor, giving out food and gifts. Or the way we consciously think about how our families can embrace those who are alone. Although I love all that.
I think my favorite part is learning anticipation… THE WAITING.
Advent (adventus) means “coming” in Latin. It’s both a set time in which we wait the celebration of the birth of the Savior, while also using it to remember that we the church are still waiting on the second coming of Christ (parousia). This word, parousia, means a visit from the royal dignitary (Emperor or state figure). In this context, it meant that Jesus was going to overthrow the world as they knew it. Jesus was proclaimed as Lord. He was the reigning King. (You can find the word parousia in Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:28).
The Advent practice of consciously waiting every year reminds us that when we are not seeing justice on this earth, that we do not fight “flesh and blood”, meaning the people around us. We can remember that Jesus died in order to end all fighting. The Prince of Peace has come, and is coming again. And when Jesus appears, then all the earthly powers will lose their strength. This is justice. And it is really the point of this season, learning how to wait on what we so long for.
We need this skill so desperately, don’t we? Life is not immediate. We often despair while we are on the very edge of the promise. We can too easily get disappointed, hurt, angry and bitter. Advent is the message that the promise is coming. And I love “Mary’s Song” after she has heard that she is waiting upon the Savior in Luke 1:46-55. She sings:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed."
Hillsong’s worship leader Miriam Webster sings this song and connects it to her own testimony.
Towards the end of "Mary's Song", in the message version it says: “He remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised.”
He’ll be back. You can count on it. No matter what you’re going through. It’s a PROMISE.