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Great Expectations: Rediscovering the Hope of AdventSample

Great Expectations: Rediscovering the Hope of Advent

DAY 1 OF 5

The word Advent means arrival or coming. On the church calendar, Advent is the beginning of the Christian year. For Christians, it is a word of anticipation. It is a season of great expectations.

As Advent looks forward to fulfilling all God's promises, the Advent season wrestles with the current world filled with sorrow and suffering.

The Israelites, throughout the Old Testament, waited and longed for rescue. They faced hardship and persecution. In captivity, they waited for release and for the freedom to serve God. In worship, they longed for the prophecies to come true. God promised to rescue them and to provide a redeemer, a messiah. And they waited centuries for Him to come, trusting that God would fulfill their great expectation.

Jesus's long-awaited arrival came over two thousand years ago, so we stand together on the other side of the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

And yet just like the Israelites waited for the Messiah to come, we wait again for His second coming. Advent is not so much looking back but looking ahead, as we walk faithfully now. The medieval Church and Martin Luther emphasize the future hope and the future judgment that will occur at Christ's return.

In this season of waiting, we wait with hope. We long for peace. We experience God's love and desire it more fully. And we claim joy as we now “rejoice in the Lord always,” as Paul proclaims it. And he says, "I'll say it again, even rejoice!"

But how can we do this? By faith. The eyes of faith see both joy and sadness. They see love and pain, evil, heartache, and brokenness. The eyes of faith see peace and long to see the end of war and violence. They see with hope, knowing the Savior has made a way in the pain. The Savior is the light in the darkness. The Apostle Peter said, "In keeping with God's promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells."

And so we wait for the triumphant and glorious return of our Lord.

In her work Advent: The Once and Future coming of Jesus Christ, Fleming Rutledge talks about Advent as the only church season that looks "beyond history altogether and awaits Jesus Christ's coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead."

In this season of Advent, we participate expectantly in the great waiting. We lean into our shared history. We tell the story of the first waiting. Advent is the season when we remember together the anticipation of Mary, Joseph, and the wise men and that very first Christmas. We tell and retell this story because, in it, we connect ourselves to that first waiting as we wait for the return of our Lord.

Now, however, is the time of the enemy. But his time will not last. His end is sure, even as Christ's victory over death is also sure. And we're in the middle space, witnesses to God's victory in Christ and participants in Christ's suffering, that we may share in the resurrection.

And so we wait with great expectation. With Advent, we light candles to make our way through this current space where hope lives, but evil is all around. We do not wait in total darkness, for we know our Lord is the light of the world. And we stand looking at the horizon, see the light coming, and wait.

We wait for the sun to break across the dark sky. Isaiah 9: 2-7 reads,

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."

And so we wait for God to act, watching with great expectations. He who promised is faithful.

(Adapted from a message by Lynn Cohick.)

Day 2

About this Plan

Great Expectations: Rediscovering the Hope of Advent

The word "Advent" means "arrival" or "coming." On the church calendar, Advent is the beginning of the Christian year. It is a season of Great Expectation and a time not only to look back but to look forward.

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