How awake are you?

The end of the year is just a few weeks away, and a new liturgical year has just started. The season of Advent is upon us. New Apostolic services in the month of December are dedicated to the theme “Time of fulfilment”. Following is a closer look at what to expect.

People need hope. Without hope no one can survive. Despair discourages, makes you weak, and it paralyzes. Without hope a future is hardly conceivable. This is true for all people in all countries, and at all times. We need to be inspired with hope either by somebody or something—either by a promise, a Messiah, or a goal. The ancient Israelites waited centuries for the promised Messiah. The prophets kept this alive in them. Even greater than Moses, this new Messiah was to proclaim God’s future plan of salvation to the people of the old covenant. What was left in the end? The hope in the coming Messiah faded. It died, was forgotten.

When it comes to Him, opinions are divided

And then He came, Christ. But there was widespread and powerful unbelief, especially since this Jesus came from Nazareth, was born in the small village of Bethlehem, and came from a family of craftsmen. The tiny flicker of hope barely had a chance against so much rejection. There were only a few people who believed and followed Jesus, and listened to His teachings.

The dawn of a new day

And today? What does this have to do with us? Earlier it was the Jews who waited for Him, today also Christians are waiting for Him. Jesus Christ promised eternal life. He spoke of His resurrection and return. That is what makes Advent so meaningful: Christians are preparing for the return of Christ. The day is at hand, He will be here soon. This wake-up call has lost none of its urgency. A fitting image is the approach of dawn. A dark night is followed by a new day. Paul uses this image to show that the return of Christ is inexorable. It may still be midnight, but the dawn of a new day cannot be prevented: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13: 12).

The King is coming

We are talking about nobody less than the King of kings, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12: 13) Jesus is not a king elected by human beings. Neither is He a king who has descended from a human dynasty. His kingship is a divine one. He rules, but without force. He judges, but does not condemn. He is the King of peace.

Nothing is impossible for God

With this in mind, we can begin to understand Mary’s faith: “‘For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1: 37–38). This is the Bible text for Christmas Day 2016. It adds an interesting and enriching facet to our life of faith and gives us certainty: God will fulfil His promises!

Photo: A. and I. Kruk

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Peter Johanning
Advent, Divine service