Advent: A Time of Longing
November 24, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
My son’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day this year. For at least two months he has been asking, “How many more days until my birthday?” For a six year old about to be seven, a birthday is a momentous day. He looks forward to the gifts he’ll receive and the special ice cream cake prepared for his day. All that excitement and anticipation for a single day that comes once every year.
Can you imagine waiting your entire lifetime for a single event? There would be great rejoicing when that moment finally arrives. But what if the event never comes in your lifetime? You are promised a great blessing, live every day longing for it, and then you die never having received it. If fact, the promise extends to your descendants, and generation after generation passes away looking for fulfillment but never receiving it. Some generations lose hope. Others are reinvigorated in deep longing. Can you imagine the excitement and rejoicing that comes when the day arrives?
Perhaps you can guess that I’m referring to the Old Testament promises of the coming Messiah. Hebrews 11:13 speaks of Abraham and his descendants, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised…” When the time came for the Christ to be born, those who shared the faith of Abraham, rejoiced greatly to see the day.
Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Lk. 1: 46-47).
Zechariah says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people…” (Lk. 1:68).
Simeon, in the temple, says, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation…” (Lk. 2:29-30).
Anna the prophetess gave “thanks to God and [began] to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk. 2:38).
Even the angels of heaven join in the rejoicing over the birth of Christ, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Lk. 2:14).
The birth of Christ is one of the greatest events in all human history and worthy of great celebrations, just like these rejoicings. The celebration is magnified by the depth of longing.
The season of Advent is a time for Christians to not only reflect on the longings of the Old Testament saints for the birth of Christ, but also a time to cultivate our own longings for the second coming of Christ.
We deepen our longings by:
1. Grieving the darkness of sin and death that has afflicted our lives and this world;
2. Celebrating the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sin already offered and experienced in Christ; and
3. Hearing and hoping in the glorious promises of final restoration in Christ.
This Advent season, look to cultivate a deeper longing for Christ and his second coming. Listen for these messages of hope in Christmas carols, readings of the Christmas story, Advent candle lightings, and the Word preached.
Happy Advent and Happy Thanksgiving!