Arrival | Monday, December 3
Scripture: John 1:4-5
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Theologian, Karl Barth once asked, “What other season can the Church ever have but that of Advent?” The question locates the Church in relation to the first and second comings of Christ. The season is a symbol of the Church’s life in the present. We always live in between the times, so to speak. In a sense, Advent is a story told in three dimensions. The first asks us to look back at the miracle of God choosing to be with us and for us so we can catch a glimpse of the future He has destined. The second reminds us that we cannot fully grasp the fullness of God’s being in the manger without also looking forward in the story to God’s being with us in the cross. And the final dimension has us looking toward the future where God will restore and reconcile all things. As people of God, our destiny is marked by two arrivals: God coming in the flesh at Christmas, and his coming in glory at the reconciliation of all things. This means that our present is shaped by his the self-giving love for the world embodied in the cross.
As a people who live “in between,” John’s prologue reminds us that the light that shines does so in darkness. Christmas rests on the assumption that the human race is in a desperate fix. You won’t have to spend more than five minutes gathering examples—they’re all right there, in the morning newspaper. Staring into the darkness, you might get a distinct impression that the light is losing. That is precisely why this season is so important. Advent ultimately asks us to look beyond the present to our final destiny as citizens in the Kingdom of heaven—it hinges on the reality that against this feeling of a world covered in darkness, God has spoken a resounding “nevertheless.” This season, we will celebrate the fact that the King has come and this arrival changes everything. Whatever personal darkness you may be facing, Advent declares that it has been and will be overcome. There’s always an element in this season of “not yet.” Not yet, but it will come. Joy will come because he will come. Christmas is a time of fulfillment and to experience the joy of the light that has come, we first have to learn to sit in the dark.
In the darkest part of our calendar year, when the northern hemisphere’s poles are tilted farthest from the light of the sun, we have the audacity to proclaim that it will always be the deepest fact in all of history that light was not and never will be extinguished. The weeks leading up to Christmas remind us that those who follow Jesus are a forward-looking people who wait expectantly for the return of the light that will illumine everything.
Silence for Reflection
• How do you prepare for the arrival of important guests? In the weeks leading up to Christmas, what are some ways you can prepare for Jesus to enter into your life more deeply?
• What part does prayer play in your morning preparations? Are there any changes you would like to make?
• As you prepare for the week ahead, where do you long for the light of Christ to drive darkness away?
Prayer for the Day:
Almighty God, lead me not to despair in the face of darkness, but to rejoice in your light. As I prepare for your arrival, help me to remember with thanks the reality that your light has dawned and has banished the darkness forever. To you, the Light of the world, I pray. Amen.
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