In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. (Jeremiah 33:15)
The time has come, once again, to prepare for the arrival of the Christ-child. While the world around us goes mad with holiday frenzy, the church enters into a time of something a little bit different.
We celebrate Advent – and no, it was not created by religious zealots some years ago who don’t want you to sing Christmas carols for an extra four weeks. Advent literally means “coming.” It is the season of the church calendar when we wait and we watch with expectation for all that God will do in the world, in our midst.
As we learned this past weekend, the Christ child is the long anticipated heir to David. He is the true King of kings. The true Son of God, in a way that David could only dream about. While the ancient son of Jesse did many great things, his rule was fraught with problems, most of which were self-created. This new child coming to Bethlehem (David’s own birthplace) will come with an ability to execute justice and dispense mercy as God’s own presence in the world.
So what do we do with the season of Advent? Yes, we will light candles. Yes, we will hear the plaintive echoes of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Yes, the star will rise in our window. And yes, we will deck the church with symbols of the season of light to come. However, as we intentionally look toward Christmastide with excited anticipation, let us take the extra time to ponder.
Like a mother uses her pregnancy as a time to consider all that will be coming, so the church is invited to take these coming days to prayerfully think about important questions for our time: Who are we? What will our future hold? Where do we see God springing up in our midst?
The answers to these questions will guide us in the new year to come.
My prayer for all of us is that we will see the light of the Christ child’s presence in this season’s beginning, as much as in its end. Keep awake and watch, for the time is surely coming when God’s presence will come into our midst once again.