Daily Scripture: Luke 21:25-36
Reflection: The Rev. Dion Crider, Deacon—Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma
Distress of nations, men fainting with fear, roaring of the sea, and the powers of heaven shaken. I don’t remember any of this in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Most people, at least ones in a liturgical tradition, think of Advent as getting our minds focused on the impending birth of Jesus on Christmas. Lighting candles a candle each Sunday as the countdown progresses until the grand celebration on the evening of December 24. That’s part of Advent, but there’s more.
Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”. In addition to remembering God breaking into the world two thousand years ago, in a manger in Bethlehem, it also serves as a reminder that Christ will come again. “Whaaaaat,” you ask. “Come again??”
Unfortunately, thanks to popular fiction, whenever someone talks about the second coming, they envision the Rapture as some fantastical event. On that day, born-again Christians will begin to float up from the freeway, abandoned vehicles careening out of control. Airplanes will fall from the sky with no one at the controls. Christ will come unseen to secretly take believers away and only come back publicly to later take away everyone else after a period of tribulation. It’s fun reading, but it’s schlock.
But as Christians, we profess that Christ will come again. We declare it every Sunday as part of our creedal statement of belief. As God’s people, we wait for the return of Christ to usher in this eternal kingdom. The Church today is in a similar place that Israel was at the end of the Old Testament - waiting in expectation for the coming Messiah. Couldn’t we just as easily sing the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” to capture our anticipation of Christ’s coming as Israel once did?:
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!