An Ancient Word on Advent

The Twofold Coming of Jesus Christ 
from the Catecheses of Cyril of Jerusalem, 315-386 A.D.

We preach not one coming only of Jesus Christ, but a second also, far more glorious than the first.  The first revealed the meaning of his patient endurance; the second brings with it the crown of the divine kingdom.

Generally speaking, everything that concerns our Lord Jesus Christ is twofold.  His birth is twofold: one, of God before time began; the other, of the Virgin in the fulness of time.  His descent is twofold: one, unperceived like the dew falling on the fleece; the other, before the eyes of all, is yet to happen.

In his first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger.  In his second coming he is clothed with light as with a garment.  In his first coming he bore the cross, despising its shame; he will come a second time in glory accompanied by the hosts of angels.

It is not enough for us, then, to be content with his first coming; we must wait in hope of his second coming.  What we said at his first coming, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, we shall repeat at his last coming.  Running out with the angels to meet the Master we shall cry out in adoration, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. . .

Our Lord Jesus Christ will, then, come from heaven.  He will come in glory at the end of this world on the last day.   Then there will be an end to this world, and this created world will be made new.

Advent-ure 2013

I am an advocate of Advent.   Some confuse this reflective season with Christmas.  The two are designed to be separate.  Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter.  Through the years I have come to savor the season of Advent.Image

I appreciate Advent because if forces me to talk about judgment.  Even if you were to speed read the Gospels you could not help but notice the judgment of God is real and imminent.  Time is hurtling towards its conclusion.  Advent is the reminder that God is coming to judge the living and the dead.  The countdown continues to tick down.  Each time an Advent Candle is lit it serves as a reminder that it could be the last time the flame is ignited.  The sacred time of Advent brings a  necessary sobering reminder to to my thoughts every year, and I am blessed because of it.

This morning, Randy Rothwell, our humble, yet amazingly talented worship leader, summarized a second purpose for Advent in worship.  With his comforting yet challenging flair he shared that a key job of Advent today is to take our mind away from the slavish service to the marketplace and focus us back onto the real emphasis of Christmas.  We are witnessing a hijacking of our sacred time by people hocking stuff and clutter.  In the midst of this mammon abuse, Advent keeps us grounded on the gospel.

Finally, Advent sets the stage for a story that culminates in a dazzling wonder of action.  This is what Advent does with the Christmas narrative—it provides the rising action.  I recently heard it described this way:  “Without this sense of dramatic unfolding the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day events are a little flat.  It’s like skipping the whole book and just reading the last chapter.”  You might know what happened, but you don’t necessarily know why or why it is significant.

Thank you, Advent, for the advent-ure you are!