November 21, 2005
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
(Romans 8:20-23 ESV)
I see Advent ultimately as a longing for our ultimate redemption. Just as we eagerly mark the time until the birth of Christ, and the arrival of our Redeemer, we eagerly await His Second Coming, and the redemtpion of all of creation. But we also see from this passage in Romans that this ultimate redemption is not without pain and torment. In childbirth the woman experiences an incredible ammount of pain, but the reward afterward makes the pain bearable. In the same way, creation is groaning in what Paul calls birth pains. The pain is incredible now, but the ultimate benefit -- reconciliation with God -- will make the pain and travail worth it. Not only is mankind's standing with God reconciled through the blood of Christ, but all of creation will ultimately be redeemed -- when Christ returns and establishes His rule on earth. Hurricanse, tornados, earthquakes -- no more. Animal attacks, poison ivy, drought -- gone. Creation will be the way it was before the fall. This is the anticipation that we have in Advent.
Because of the dual themes of threat and promise, Advent is a time of preparation that is marked by prayer. While Lent is characterized by fasting and a spirit of penitence, Advents prayers are prayers of humble devotion and commitment, prayers of submission, prayers for deliverance, prayers from those walking in darkness who are awaiting and anticipating a great light (Isa 9)!I'll have more to say about celebrating Christmas as the season progresses. This is the last post you'll see about it here until after Thanksgiving, though.
The spirit of Advent is expressed well in the parable of the bridesmaids who are anxiously awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom (Matt 25:1-13). There is profound joy at the Bridegrooms expected coming. And yet a warning of the need for preparation echoes through the parable. But even then, the prayer of Advent is still:
Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel!
from The Christian Season of Advent
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