It arrives each year unbidden, slowly moving toward me, nearly imperceptible until its final descent. But then, the monotonous rhythm of the ordinary every day is interrupted with a new sound. It is the song of Advent, awakening in me the longing, the desire, the anticipation that Christ is coming.
For generations and across centuries, the people of God waited. From the very beginning, Adam and Eve longed for the One who would crush the serpent’s head, returning them to the life they no longer had access to. The Israelites made bricks day after day until it was all that they knew, wondering if God had forgotten them, but yet clinging to the hope of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Knowing that they were God’s chosen people, and waiting for God to again bless those who blessed them and curse those who cursed them. All through the prophets, the promises grew louder; One was coming who would bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim liberty to the captives. All through history, every story whispered the name of the One who is coming. The familiar carols recount the scene:
“Long lay the world in sin and error, pining till He appeared”
“O come, o come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel”
“O come, Desire of Nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind. Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease, and fill the world with heaven’s peace.”
The songs continue:
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices; for yonder breaks a new and glorious mourn.”
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to thee O Israel!”
Advent lets me join in both parts of this story. I know the truth – that the promises were true; that Christ has come! That He stood up in the temple and proclaimed freedom to the captive. That He has crushed the serpent’s head and again made a way for mankind to walk with God, just as Adam and Eve longed for. But the promises are still being delivered. Peace on Earth is now a possibility but is not yet a reality. The brokenhearted can now be comforted and healed, but all do not yet experience that. The reality of the promises is here, but it is not yet finally fulfilled.
And so in Advent, we look back to see the work that has been accomplished and we remember the promises that are yet to come. As my friend Sam says, “we focus on the longing we feel for the true New World, when the dwelling place of God will be with man…and we will be home again on earth.” And so we wait, together with our family, our friends, and the Church as the weary world longs to once again rejoice.
“The not yet will be worth it,” Advent whispers in the dark.
So let its song fill you.