We talk a lot about waiting and expectation during Advent. It’s one of the season’s hallmarks. We remember the waiting of Israel for her Messiah, of the long expectation for God’s promises to be fulfilled. We sit with the longing.
I think of all those faithful who waited and longed and died without ever seeing the fulfillment of the Promise. They looked for one who would trample the serpent, who would bring blessing to the nations. They looked for a king to take David’s throne, for a savior from bondage. They looked for the return of God’s presence to his people, for the forgiveness of sin, for the coming Spirit poured out on all flesh. They waited. They looked. But they did not yet see.
Then it came - He came - in quiet humility. A fragile baby in the arms of a Hebrew peasant girl. The light of the world in obscurity. The King in a manger throne. Jesus, the Savior, God-with-us. Those who had eyes to see rejoiced in this day, rejoiced in this answer to the cries of the ages.
As we reflect during Advent, it is typically of this first coming of Jesus. But historically, Advent has been a season to meditate also on Christ’s second coming - the Second Advent - that promised and hoped for arrival we have yet to see.
We also live in an age in which the faithful wait and long and die without seeing the fulfillment of the Promise. We live in a world in which babies die too soon and our bodies are afflicted with disease. We see wars ravage beautiful land and decimate the lives of families and vibrant cultures. We see the unjust unpunished, see evil rewarded, see wreckage in the wake of greed. We see hunger and poverty, loneliness and hatred, abuse and exploitation. We see the twisting of sin in our own hearts. We stand weeping at the sides of too many graves.
We sit with the longing. We wait. Our voices continue that cry of the ages: “How long, O Lord?”
But the Promise means we wait with expectation. We wait in the not-yet with faith tightly grasping the hope of what is to come.
One glorious day, we too will see the fulfillment of the promises, when our King comes once again. All of Heaven and Earth will be transformed. Sorrow and sickness and dying and pain will be no more. His Kingdom will come fully to earth as it is in Heaven - and of that Kingdom there shall be no end.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.