We can attempt to control our children with “you better not shout! You better not cry! You better not pout! ” Why? Because Santa Claus is coming to town! And yet, in Advent our attention is drawn to the skies. We are told to scan the horizon, not for a man in a red sleigh being pulled by eight tiny reindeer, but “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and glory.” While the world may be singing, “Santa Claus Comes to Town” this holiday season, Advent reminds us that the one we ought to be looking for is Jesus.
Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” We celebrate the coming of Christ as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger but we also anticipate his return. So, while we hang up wreaths, decorate trees, and set up Nativity scenes, let’s hear from the grown-up, just-about-to-die Jesus, as he stands in the Temple teaching about his return to make things right. What we will discover is that the hope of Christmas is found in trusting a God that doesn’t forget a promise. He came for a visit once. He is coming back.
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” Luke 21:25-28.
Blood on the streets. Famine in the fields. Nations at war. Citizens frozen in fear. The seas roar. The mountains quake. People freak. It appears as though hope has gone into hiding. The stars fall. Darkness drowns. And yet, after the nightmare is over, a familiar face will appear among the clouds. God’s people will lift their eyes to see that their redemption has come. Salvation has arrived. He has power to judge. He has power to rescue. He is mighty to save.
Advent gives us hope to light candles in darkness. Advent gives us hope to decorate evergreen trees in the midst of death. Advent gives us hope to sing “Joy to the world” in a world that is broken. When fear wants to force us to remain under the covers, we are reminded to stand up and raise our hands, for our redemption has drawn near. Christmas celebrated from the perspective of the Second Coming gives us reason to be hopeful. Advent gives the gift of hope.