Sunday, November 29, 2009

Come, Lord Jesus

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, my favorite season of the church year. I'll spend the day decorating my house for Christmas and picking out my favorite Advent hymns to sing at my church's Advent Fest next Sunday. This season is all about eager anticipation for me. So many good things are coming. I can't wait for the Christmas Eve service, my favorite church service of the year, when I will look at the Nativity and try to understand the depth of my Savior's love for me and for all of my fellow humans. I'm eager to see my family over the holiday and for the chance to reconnect with old friends. I'm looking forward to enjoying the beautiful decorations and eating the tasty food and singing the festive songs. I'm ready for snow and evergreen trees and twinkle lights, and I long to see the happy faces of my loved ones as we celebrate together.

In a way, Christmas represents in a small way what we have to look forward to. Eventually we'll be in Heaven, and it will be like one big continuous holiday. We'll all be together and everyone will be joyful and at peace. Everything will be beautiful and festive, and we'll get to praise God and sing and celebrate. God will be with us in the same way that baby Jesus grew into a man who walked among us. God will heal us the same way Jesus healed the sick people, and we'll all rejoice like the shepherds and the Magi when they discovered that a Savior had been born. Our whole life is one long Advent season in which this blissful eternity is the final destination. And each year during Advent I get a chance to remember that and to rejoice in it.

Jesus is coming. Just as the people of Israel waited and waited for the promises of the prophets to be fulfilled, we wait for Jesus to return and right the wrongs in this world. And he is coming. We don't know when, but we have to keep waiting and hoping. When we think about the second coming, it's easy to get stuck on the apocalyptic imagery and to therefore see it as something to dread. Jesus will indeed come with judgment, but he will also come with his characteristic mercy. Whatever hardships are in our future, Jesus will someday return to eradicate them, and we will finally have freedom from all oppression. I used to be afraid at the thought of the end times, but now I understand that they aren't really an end at all. Jesus is coming to make everything new, and it will be a glorious miracle when it happens.

So today as I celebrate the beginning of Advent, I consider all the ways that I am hoping for Jesus to enter my life. I prepare to once more celebrate his birth on Christmas day. I am eager to embrace the joy that He has given me through his forgiveness and salvation. I long to know him better and to make his love, his teachings, and his presence a more central part of my life. I wait patiently for him to return to Earth, and I expect him to be there when I die to welcome me into Paradise. Jesus has all of these precious gifts in store for me, and I am eager to rejoice in them. Come, Lord Jesus!

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