[ad-vent] a coming into place; arriving 1
The First Advent:
When I was a kid, Amy Grant taught me that Emmanuel means “God with us.” Last year, Lauren Daigle made the word Noel, “of or relating to birth,”2 cool again when she sings, “Come and see what God has done.” This song is referring to the birth of Christ. Christmas is a two part word that is Christ and mass. Mass “from the Latin “dismissal.”3 Traditionally a Catholic mass is to send out the people of God into the world after their gathering for service. Christmas is the celebration of not just Christ, but the sending out of the church to proclaim Jesus’ birth. Christ means: messiah, chosen and anointed one, redeemer, rescuer, salvation. It isn’t Jesus’ last name, it’s his title. When we say Jesus Christ, we are stating his position as the one whom God sent, our Immanuel and he did that at the first Noel.
It’s not about gifts to us, it’s about our gifts to the king. Everyone that came to see the savior as a baby, came with a different form of honor and respect. The Shepherds came with awe, as witnesses to “what God has done.” The Wiseman came with literal gifts to pay their respect and worship the king of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). Simeon, a just and devout man in the temple, brought his praise as he proclaimed “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:20-32, NIV).
“And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him” (Luke 2:40). There was a period of time of preparation. His ministry would not start until a specific time when he was older. This leads us to our next arrival.
The Second Advent:
The second advent was at Jesus’ baptism. God spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, NIV). Then Jesus started preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand. The kingdom, now thirty years after his birth, was here. It was both arriving and arrived. Jesus knew the path he would take before the culmination of the kingdom would be complete. The kingdom would not be fully established with power and authority until after his death burial and resurrection. The second advent was to teach us how to live. When he came to call the disciples, after his temptation in the wilderness, he was coming to a place of both revelation and ridicule. People were amazed at the works he did. People followed him, sought healing from him and also turned their backs on him. Post resurrection Jesus’ kingdom was affirmed. The disciples and all who saw the resurrected Jesus knew their savior was really who he claimed to be. The second advent reached it’s height at the cross and it’s culmination came with Jesus’ resurrection. Before Jesus ascended into heaven he said to his disciples,“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4, NIV). Their was a period of waiting for the promised Holy Spirit to arrive.
The Third Advent:
The third advent came at Pentecost with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ own words were, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8, NIV). The disciples waited in Jerusalem and at the celebration of Pentecost, what looked like tongues of fire came upon them. This advent is possibly the most meaningful to us today because we can’t see Jesus as those who had in the first and second advents. However, we can be empowered as they were with God in us. Emmanuel is still true, God is with us here and now. He will never forsake us when He is dwelling inside his people and his church.
The third advent is about the misseo dei, the mission of God, which is for us to go to all nations and teach them that God has come. God is immanent, he is close. In Christ we are made new and now the Spirit, God, is dwelling in and among us. But it doesn’t stop there, not only has God come, he is coming again.
The Fourth Advent:
The church has been awaiting for the return of it’s bridegroom, it’s king, it’s savior. Why? What needs to happen that hasn’t already been accomplished with the first three advents? Theologically speaking we call it his second advent, but as I have argued above, he has been arriving in a multitude of ways. The second coming of Jesus is to overthrow the rulers and principalities of this world. We are in the middle of a battle, we have the Holy Spirit on our side but there is something that is yet to be complete.
Jesus will come to bring judgement; and this judgement is just, fair and good. He will judge sin and death, defeat them and repair our brokenness. We will be restored, fixed, made new in the twinkling of an eye. The arrival of our king means the end of suffering, pain and evil. Where is God when our world is falling into chaos? We must remember that He has come once and he will come again and while we wait we have the Spirit to comfort us and empower us.
May you come to celebrate all four advents this Christmas season. He came as a child to be worshiped, a man to pattern our lives after who died for us, after his resurrection he sent the Spirit to comfort and counsel us and God will send our risen King again to establish true freedom from the tyranny of this life’s injustices. “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20, NIV).
In Truth & Love,
Matthew J. Diaz