Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season on the Christian calendar that climaxes at Christmas. “Advent” means “something’s coming, something’s about to arrive.”
It is called “Advent season” because the Christian church takes this time of the year to intentionally do what all of creation is doing. Creation is enslaved, held captive. Sin and Death hold the world in their grip, and we all feel it. Life hurts. We get depressed. Our bodies break down, or they just break. People hurt us, reject us, people hurt themselves. Families fall apart.
In this condition, what is creation doing? It is waiting. It is expecting. A long time ago the people of God were waiting for their redeemer, the one who was promised, who would come and deliver God’s people from oppression and captivity. God sent Jesus into the world to provide salvation, to make God’s initial move to redeem the world. So we celebrate Christmas.
But we celebrate not only the singular day that commemorates the arrival of the Son of God, we participate in the entire Advent season, since we still find ourselves in a posture of waiting. We are waiting for the return of Jesus to come and save, to redeem us from oppression and save us from our brokenness and sin. We are waiting for God to come back and fix the world finally and forever.
This is the prayer from the lectionary for the first Sunday of Advent:
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.