This season if filled with scenes of mangers and wise men.
It seems as though everywhere there are signs of the Advent of Christ nigh two-thousand years ago. Even for those who believe that there is not enough of this, it is still all around us. Signs that point to a babe in a manger. A new King who has come to free us from something more than we ever dared imagining.
And though this is a great thing, to see and to celebrate the incarnation. To sing and savor Immanuel, God with us. But often we forget what I believe to be one of the most vital parts of this season. We celebrate that Christ has come to this world once, but then we go on living as if He's forgotten how to get back.
This season is called Advent, which means coming. And in this season that is what we celebrate. That Christ came. But for many of us, this is where is stops. We are happy that He came, but this doesn't do much for us now. We spend this season in expectation, but not the kind that should fill ever fiber of this season.
The writer of Hebrews writes to us that "Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him." (9:28) And in this season, more than any other, I believe that this should be the thing that consumes our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. For what would be different if we were truly were waiting eagerly for our King to come back.
Unfortunately most people who are identified by the name of Christ wait for Him as the English await the return of Arthur, the once and future king. For both of these kings are said to return when needed the most. Both have a story that surround them that tells of a return to their own when it seems as though all hope is lost. But when the world looks upon us, as a whole, in this season there is nothing that would say that we believe one of these kings to be returning more than the other.
If Christ truly is returning for His own, and I believe this with every part of me, then we should be a people marked by this longing. It should be apparent to the world around us that this place we now reside is not our home. But too many of us have been caught, hook-line-and-sinker, by the lies we are told in this season. That if only we purchase the right gift then all shall be well. If only the one person would come for Christmas day around then we shall have peace. If we play enough Christmas music then we'll finally start to transform like Scrooge or the Grinch, perhaps we'll see a heart grow three sizes one day.
But we must hold fast to what we know. Since Christ was true to His word, coming a first time as our Messiah, then we can trust that He shall come again for us. And when He does He shall make all thing right. In the meantime this will require us to wait, but we shall wait with expectation. In doing so we can echo the cry of ascent, "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning." (Ps 130:5-6a)
So in this season look back to our King, born of a virgin in a manger. But also look ahead. Look to the time when all that is wrong will be made right. Look to the time when neither you nor I shall be bound to a body sick with sin. Look forward and hope for that time that we see Immanuel instead of just imagining what it was like when God walked with us. So no matter how great your hope or your hopelessness in the midst of this season. Remember, the King is coming. There shall be another Advent.