Future Tensely

Photo by Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay

Psalm 126; Isaiah 40:1-11; Romans 8:22-25

Have you realized that Advent is weird? I Advent, don’t get me wrong. However, the world has done a successful job of retraining us on what Advent is all about.

Partially, I think, this is because of the image of an unthreatening baby with lambs, other baby animals, with the inferred warm smiles of (an exhausted) Mary and Joseph. This is a fairly safe form of evangelism, and it’s easy to put out little statues in our homes and on our lawns.

We, the modern church, have become very comfortable with this form of Advent, which creates this weird situation of celebrating the Advent of the birth of , which already happened. By simple definition, advent is about an event that is coming. Except came already, and went already.

Yet, we treat this as more than a simple birthday. This is also more than the annual “discussion” of which Christmas is really of pagan origin and the dispute/defense of those s (either way). The problem is that when we talk about the Advent of Christ, it isn’t just about the birth of . This is where it gets uncomfortable, including for the Western Church.

The Advent Season is about the event of being born. It is also about the Advent of Christ’s . It’s that whole thing that gets uncomfortable.

Today’s passages are about the past. They are also about the future. Psalm 126:1 talks about the past of . We can equate this to the birth of (for the sake of example, not making a theological tie-in).

Psalm 126:4 is about the of those fortunes lost. And that’s important. provided previously. The were “lost”. So, the request is that the be restored. We, too, are in that in between time. The time between .

We look back at the provided and look to the to come (the of Christ). Yet, contrary to the sentimental of the manger (which was not sentimental in reality), the coming of Christ is not foretold as being comfortable.

For both who have declared Christ their Lord and Savior, and for those who don’t, the Day of the Lord always comes at a cost. Some who thought they were saved may discover they are not. The of losing d ones and the pangs of the world will be unpleasant. So, it makes sense that we don’t talk about it when we want to talk about baby .

Except, the true is that this is not the end. The , misery, injustice, degradation, death, war, pestilence, poverty, slavery that is all around is proof that all is not well. The Advent of baby didn’t solve that. Only the next Advent will solve it.

Come, Lord , Come!

By Pastor Ian

Ian is an ordained Elder in The Church of the Nazarene, and is currently serving as the Online Campus Pastor at Generations Community Church in Marysville, WA, USA.

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