“As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age?’ Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains'” (Matt. 24:3-8).

Lord, in years past, You’ve inspired me to study the word advent. Now it seems You are stirring fresh interest in the term.

Advent, from the Latin adventus, means “coming.” but actually that’s a loose translation, is it not, Rabbi? The term means “expectant, waiting,” anticipating an event or arrival that has not yet happened…as if smelling rain in the air long before feeling the drops, or getting an announcement of an upcoming party held by someone with a reputation for holding great celebrations (an event I surely would not miss and one I’d want to prepare for properly). Advent might herald the arrival of a special Someone who knows there is trouble ahead. Maybe this certain Person with foreknowledge of pending tragedy takes it upon Himself to intervene, willingly offering a very personal sacrifice in place of others to avoid greater suffering.

Yeah, I know…that last example is a reach…who would actually do such a thing?

To me, neither Christmas nor Resurrection Day would be complete without their preceding advents. Yet, those advents are best understood after Your birth and after Your victory over death. It’s so easy to look back, exclaiming, “Oh, I see, all those events, the prophesies, the historical heritage of Your people, the cultural nuances; they all pointed like lasers to the greatest story ever told. If so, why did so many ignore Your walk on earth? Why did those who should have understood the signs and wonders best then participate in Your crucifixion?

These disturbing questions once more prick my consciousness. Creator of all things, what new advent events are occurring now? I’ve studied and have understood for some time that Your objective always has been to redeem this broken world, but now I’m realizing You’re not through with Your advent-urous planning. Could it be that right now, not in some distant hazy future, before our eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear You are unveiling a new advent?

Savior, what would that mean to my way of life and my way of worship? Just because I can’t know the exact time of Your return doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be watching for the heralds of Your new advent. Actually, I’m told by Your Word to be “alert and sober-minded” about all things spiritual, including Your second coming. What signs and wonders am I ignoring? What invitation messages might You be sending out for Your big event? How can I best prepare the way for You, Lord?

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit for Theirs is the Kingdom of God
Some might say it doesn’t matter, that all is fixed, and we believers have no risk as You approach. We can show up to the party, and all will be well. Is that so? I read of virgins being lackadaisical and missing the Bridegroom’s return and of a wedding feast where one man is booted from the party for being inappropriately dressed for the occasion. Do these parables suggest we may be too casual about Your plan? Are there implications if we are ill-prepared for Your glorious appearance to call the saints to You? Are we doing enough to testify about the greatest sorrow of all: that of missing the party all together? Are we effectively communicating the terrible consequences of being permanently excluded from God’s soon-coming kingdom? Has my personal witness helped or hindered Your Truth from creating fruit in others?

Adonai, I pray during this season that celebrates the first advent, that You help us learn to be vigilant for a new and greater advent when You join with Your people once again to claim Your kingdom here on earth. Let us be watchful and understand in advance how You would have us best prepare the way!

Merry Advent

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