A new, old tradition has emerged in the Siers home and at Westside Church (where I pastor). For the third year in a row, we are observing the season of Advent. Advent is observed by the Christian church all over the world during the four weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a season full of hopeful expectation and longing for the coming of Christ. The word "Advent" is derived from the Greek word "Parousia" commonly used by New Testament writers to describe the second coming of Christ. The true purpose of Advent is to mirror the Jews who were eagerly awaiting the coming of the promised Messiah. In the Incarnation (Jesus birth), we recognize that God has not abandoned the world. He loves the world and fulfilled His promise to redeem the world in Jesus. This is a great source of hope. If God fulfilled His promise in such a miraculous way 2,000 years ago on that first Christmas, we can continue to hope that He will fulfill His promise and come again in our day.
Here’s the kicker, when do you ever think about the return of Christ? As a kid, I thought about it all of the time. My favorite book was Revelation. I loved to read the fantastic stories it contained about dragons, serpents, angels, and demons. For a boy, the fact that Jesus transformed from a really nice guy caring for sheep and children to a general on a warhorse kicking butt and taking names was especially exciting. Nowadays, I find myself thinking about Christ’s returns less and less. It’s become a subject I would rather ignore (if I’m honest). I'm uncomfortable with Revelation and other passages like it. They sound like strange sci-fi movies. Then there's the terror that comes upon every living thing, the fire, and destruction when all hell "literally" breaks loose. Yikes, whatever happened to peace on earth and goodwill toward men?