Advent in Us: A Different Kind of Waiting
On the first Sunday of Advent, we light the purple candle on our wreath, and hope is kindled anew. We wait for a savior. But even as we strain our necks to see the manger, we wait with the knowledge that we are already saved. The saving has already been done, and we carry the light of this truth inside of us and out into the world. The grace of God is at work in us.
And yet, so much of our waiting has lost its value—this holiday marred by materialism and sentimentality. Maybe this time of waiting, just like Lent, can be a time of self-examination—a time to ask, what does Advent really mean? How do I portray God’s grace to the world during this season of waiting? Do I, as writer Byron Borger says, simply view Advent as “ … a graceless counting-down-the-days-until the ultimate consumer fest of gift-giving”?
What Is Advent?
Mark Roberts, in this article for Patheos, tells us,
The Christian season of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days, ending on January 6. … The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word "Advent" comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming" or "visit." In the season with this name, we keep in mind both "advents" of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.
(You might enjoy Mark Roberts’ Advent Devotional Guide, Prepare for the Coming of Christ.)
Advent is a celebration of the incarnation, a time to wonder at how God stepped down from heaven, wrapped himself in flesh, and entered our world through the door of a mother’s womb.
In this busy season, do we dare slow down enough to allow wonder to catch up with us? Do we allow this season of waiting, as Micha Boyett writes, become a way “to live with a knowing—an awareness—that God is doing something new within us, that we are making space in our lives for Christ”?
How does the Christian waiting look different from the world’s?
Humility and Grace
Seldom … do we explore the full implications of how Jesus’ radical humility shapes the way we live our lives every day … Gracious, self-forgetful humility should be one of the primary things that distinguishes Christian believers from the many other types of moral, decent people in the world.…
Keller goes on to say how difficult it is to preach and teach humility. As soon as we begin to talk about being humble, by definition, we cease to be. Keller’s solution?
“So let us preach grace till humility just starts to grow in us.”
Consumerism and the Gift of Time
What would happen if we refused to get caught up in the consumerism that characterizes the Christmas season? This is what the good people behind Advent Conspiracy have been wondering. On their website they ask, “Can Christmas still change the world?”
“Somehow, we’ve traded the best story in the world for the story of what’s on sale,” they say.
Watch this video. It may just change the way you do Christmas this year.
One way to avoid the trap of consumerism is to give the gift of presence this year. Check out some of these wonderful Advent calendars with activities that encourage giving the gift of time. And here are some more ideas of ways to give time.
Advent in Us
God’s grace is at work in us. In a world preoccupied with materialism and busy-ness, we carry the true story of Advent. It’s the story of a loving Creator entering into his creation. A creation marked by sin and human frailty. And this entry of God into our broken world—this is the hope that transforms our waiting. This waiting on the holy birth together reminds us that things are not as they should be. But God’s grace at work in us allows us to live without fear and work to transform the world.
Advent in Us
“But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace” (1 Cor. 15:10).
The grace of God through Christ Jesus is not a passive presence in our lives. The grace of God is at work in us, building us up and moving us to action and growth, to good work and worship. Everything we accomplish and all we become is because of the grace of Christ. Let’s remember Advent in Us, the gift of grace through our Lord Jesus. Let’s consider ways to discover anew the work of grace in our work, our lives, and our relationship with God.