Third Sunday of Advent
On this third Sunday of Advent, I invited my son, Daniel, to write his thoughts to share with all of you.
I love how he describes the subtle shift from waiting and wilderness times into a space for rejoicing. It is one that I never really noticed as we enter the third week.
As we enter this third week of Advent, we strive to capture a time for rejoicing and at the same time balance it with waiting and heartache. It is interesting that in the middle of a season of waiting (and if we’re honest, a season filled with heartache for God to make all things new) we are brought into a week of joy. So far in the story, we know that people of God in the first century are waiting for the coming Messiah to restore their fortune. Things have not gone well up to this point. To solve the problem of sin in the world, God chose to create a family through a man named Abraham. This family would bring salvation to the world by living in the love of God.
Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household
to the land that I will show you.
Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you,
and I will make your name great,
so that you will exemplify divine blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
but the one who treats you lightly I must curse,
and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name. Genesis 12:1-3 NET
The problem is, Abraham’s family (Israel) fell into the same trap as the original human beings. The trap we all are ensnared by: sin. By falling into sin, the very people who had the task of bringing salvation into the world hadn’t succeeded in their mission. By breaking the covenant with God, Israel chose death instead of life and exile instead of prosperity in the Promised Land. (Deuteronomy 30).
When we fast forward to the Gospels, we find that Israel is very deep in the waters of consequence and longing. The people of God are not thriving in the Promised Land of their ancestors and their leaders are corrupt. They, like us, were waiting on God to move in a new way. To decisively act in saving people from their sins. The outlook was bleak and dreary. Where in all of this do we find space for joy?
For those of you who are familiar with the Enneagram (it’s a personality inventory), I happen to be a four. An Enneagram four is often described as creative and thoughtful. These are nice qualities, but when most people talk about the type 4, they usually think of someone who is melodramatic and melancholy. In other words, people who share my personality are often very comfortable with the dreary aspects of life (cue mellow “Charlie Brown” music).
To say that I love Advent and hymns in a minor key is an understatement. On the other side of this, I find it very difficult to find joy in this season. Maybe you can identify with that. In our own way, we are waiting for Jesus to return and establish His final victory. In the present, we still feel the effects of sin and it seems sometimes like nothing has changed.In the third week of Advent, the tune changes, dusk gives way to dawn, and the hope of Christ fills the air.@dgalmighty Click To Tweet
Yet here we are in the third week of Advent, where the tune changes key, dusk gives way to dawn, and the hope of the coming of Christ fills the air. Our minds are trained to look at the chaos and pain of our lives, to hyper-focus on the effects of a fallen world. Lest we be fooled, our pain doesn’t have the final say. In the middle of the chaos of the first century, a light came into the world.
And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it. John 1:5 NET
Today we wait with eager expectation because the light is on the throne and Jesus will once and for all put an end to sin and death, making all things new.
So friends, we come to a climatic moment in this season of Advent. We wait just as the Israelites awaited the Messiah. Their pain and longing are also our pain and longing. Whether it’s physical pain, longing for rest, desiring more out of life, or emotional turmoil, we pray this simple prayer:
Come, Lord Jesus, and let beauty overcome tragedy as we wait on you. Show us again, or even for the first time, the joy it is to know you and love you. Amen.
May our minds and hearts follow Jesus out of the pain and chaos into the joy of new creation.