The question comes every year, “What is Advent?” certain of my friends find this a puzzling time, Christmas is quite self-explanatory but Advent is much less obvious. So each year we have a great conversation. I find this amusing because I am in the place of explaining ‘religious’ seasons and symbols when I am used to describing myself as the least religious guy I know!
One of the things that bothered my friend, on this occasion, was the idea of Jesus first coming, in the Incarnation, and His second coming as Judge to put all things right. We had been looking at some Old Testament prophecies that seemed to talk about these two events as if they were one. Isaiah’s “lion and lying with the lamb” for example. Here the prophet envisions the coming of the Messiah but also the result of that coming. We at Street Hope are always talking about the day when the Lord will put all things right and our responsibility to partner with Him in that mission here and now. My friend’s confusion was that Isaiah combines the ‘here and now’ with the ‘there and then’. He knows that Jesus came 2000 years ago and so to him these hardly seem like simultaneous events. His cry is not new the old hymn “O’ come o’ come Emmanuel” expresses this holy discontent in the current state of this world and indeed in our lives. We cry out “How long?” like we did as children in the back seat of our father’s sedan.
We had a great conversation. I suggested that time becomes different as we get older. I remember days long ago when I was a little boy and how summer lasted forever and Christmas seemed like it would never come. Now I look at my children grown and married and in careers of their own and I wonder where the time went. There are still sixty second in a minute etc. so time hasn’t changed but my perspective has changed regarding time. This is the difference that a little of age makes to how I think about and perceive time.
I learned from a friend to end emails with “Keep looking down.” I do this until I’m asked what that is about because usually we encourage each other to “Keep looking up.” I reply that scripture tells us that “We are seated with Him in the heavenlies.” Mine is a reminder to look at things from that perspective, to see things from that distinct vantage point. If my limited maturity changes so much about my experience of time’s passage how would it be changed if I could look at events from my seat in the heavenlies. What makes me cry “How long?” from my limited perspective will make me cry “Holy! Holy! Holy!” when I glimpse it from my proper seat, with Him in the heavenlies.
Our conversation which began in puzzlement ended with an agreement that it was cool that we could see things in this way. We agreed to that life is so tough for those who have no hope and no perspective on these difficult days of waiting. My friends are making me more and more religious all the time.