The Last Advent

Christmas 2022 has come and gone all too quickly. Hopefully it has left you with memories worthy of a vault in your memory bank. If so, it will pay joyous interest for years to come.

Advent is another word for Christmas. It means a coming into place, view, or being; arrival. It has come to mean the coming of Christ into the world.

In modern use Advent refers to the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.

These lines from the renown Christmas song “Oh Holy Night,” describe the years of waiting for Jesus’ advent. 

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices….”  

Now we live in the capsule of time between two advents, His first and His second coming.

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer opined, “Advent creates people, new people.” “The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.”

Speaking against the background of the first advent he refers to our time as a time of waiting for the last Advent, the second coming. Like the Old Testament prophets waited for Jesus’ coming, so we should wait expectantly for His second coming to our troubled world.

Pining, as used in “O Holy Night” is one of those older words we don’t hear very often. It does refer to a desperate longing, but it also has a more archaic meaning of discontent and fret. Both reflect what the Bible tells us about the state of the world. In rebellion against God it seeks satisfaction in things that do not satisfy. It is a restless world that will not embrace the one cure that can save it.

How then should we live while expecting the second advent? Bonhoeffer who lived out the last years of his life in a Nazi concentration camp offers this answer: “Your life as a Christian should inspire every nonbeliever to question their disbelief in God.” Do and you will please God, but displease the world.

Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life

Again wise council is offered by Bonhoeffer: “Look up, you whose gaze is fixed on this earth, who are spellbound by the little events and changes on the face of the earth. Look up to these words, you who have turned away from heaven disappointed. Look up, you whose eyes are heavy with tears and who are heavy and who are crying over the fact that the earth has gracelessly torn us away. Look up, you who, burdened with guilt, cannot lift your eyes. Look up, your redemption is drawing near. something different from what you see daily will happen. Just be aware, be watchful, wait just another short moment. Wait and something quite new will break over you: God will come.”