Advent is the season of longing. The season when we stand in solidarity with the people of Israel thousands of years ago, groaning for deliverance and redemption. It is the season where we stand in the darkness, feeling the full weight of injustice, of sin, of our lostness. Where we feel the harsh cold winds of winter that tell of coming death. In this season, we feel the full magnitude of our perceived estrangement from God and from one another.
In the season of Advent we are called to feel the full weight of the sin the plagues our world today. A world where terrorists still seek to breed fear in the hearts of millions of people in the name of God. A world where those who have been entrusted to uphold justice and defend the defenseless use their force to ruthlessly murder people that look different then them. A world where corrupt politicians captivate our nation with their poisonous rhetoric that provokes malice and division among our citizens. A world where bloody wars rage on endlessly with no end in sight. Where our fears drive us more than our common humanity.
Yes. We are a people who are wandering in the land of darkness. We are a people in need of deliverance. We are people who are longing for a new way.
They will turn toward heaven and look to the earth, but they will see only distress and darkness, random movement, and the anguish and doom of banishment.
Isaiah 8:21-22 CEB
Yet the great hope of Advent is that we will not be left in darkness. We will see delvierance. We will taste redemption. We will, at last, find peace.
The message of Advent is this: That though we sit under the weight of darkness and sin, we are called to look forward in faith towards the day of liberation. We are called to see the light far off in the distance, beckoning us to press forward through the thick night, moving towards our salvation. We are reminded in our hopelessness that our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. We are called to believe, if only by faith, that God is at work, restoring creation, unshackling the chains of oppression, and filling the hungry souls of the wayward.
More than that, we are called to believe that God is with us. That God is in us. That God has not abandoned us to the darkness, but has been surrounding and enveloping us every step of the way. The message of Advent is that redemption has already come, that our redemption lies within us. That we have the power to bid the darkness to cease. We have the power to unyoke the oppressed. We have the light within us to dispel the darkness.This is the light of Advent. This is the celebration that we are straining towards in Christmas. That our Savior and Redeemer is with us. That our long exile and wandering is coming to an end at last. That we can embark on a new way, a way that leads to life and life to the full.
Brothers and Sisters, the chief end of Advent is to call us back to the heart of the Gospel of Jesus. The good news of great joy for all people that the angels proclaimed on that holy night in Bethlehem. A gospel that reminds us that in the midst of our broken world, we have the power to bring light and freedom. We have a God who sits not in the marble halls of a temple or in the far reaches of the cosmos, but enthroned in our hearts, nearer to us than our very breath.
We have a God who is over all, yes, but also in all, and through all. We need not long for redemption, for we are the redemption we are seeking. We have been shown the more excellent way. The Light of the Nations has so united himself with us that we have been declared the Light of the World. We are the very incarnations of divinity on earth as in heaven. The power to heal, to reconcile, to bring peace, it is all within us, right now.
It is within you, right now. Through every subversive act of love, every act of justice, every stride towards reconciliation, every overturning of prejudice, you bring about the deliverance that you long for. Because our Christ is in us. The hope of glory is within you an me. And together we make up his body, sent into our world with the commission to bring light.
In this season, as we look at around our world, plagued with fear and injustice, may we not continue to wander in darkness. May we resist our propensity to despair. Rather, may we take a deep breath, and center ourselves on the light within us, the light that enlightens the nations. And may we fan that faint spark, the spark of our Redemption, until it lights our lives. Lights our communities. Lights our world.
May we be the light of Advent. May we be the people who fight for justice. May we be the people who speak up in the face of wrongdoing. May we be those who sacrifice our comfort and privilege for the good of our “other”. And may we, at last, taste the peace that passes all understanding.
Nonetheless, those who were in distress won’t be exhausted… For behold, the people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in the pitch-dark land, a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:1-2 CEB