Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Season of Waiting:
Week 1 - Mapping the Destination

This past Sunday marks the start of the season of Advent for the Christian church. The word itself is rooted in two Latin words that I learnt from Miss MacDonald in Std. 7, venire, to come, and ad, to or toward.

And that strikes me as just remarkable. Jesus' arrival on this earth was no happenstance. He came with a purpose. He came with His journey on earth mapped out. His destination was already set. He came toward us.

I have a confession: I am someone who will often read the ending of a book that starts to grip me so that I know what happens "in case I die" before being able to finish the story ... You may think this is nuts; I find it somehow comforting.

So you can imagine how it resonated with me on Sunday morning when Pastor David Smith pointed out that on this, the first Sunday of Advent, it was appropriate to start at the end of the story to give context to the beginning: his text was from the first chapter of Revelation - the last book of the Bible - verses 4-6. John is writing to the seven churches in Asia at the time, and he invokes a blessing of grace and of peace to these churches from the One who is, and who was, and who is to come.

The One who knows the whole story, finish to start, and thus could work backwards from His majestic second coming to His humble first Advent as a newborn mewling in a manger attended by an inexperienced first-time mother and the man who had committed to guarding and guiding and loving this infant as though He were his own.

This first week of Advent is designated as the week of darkness, of pain, of the world waiting and travailing for the coming of light. Romans chapter 8 talks about all of creation groaning; it goes on to say that even we - people who have experienced for ourselves the love and forgiveness of God - still groan within our spirits, waiting, hoping, for what we don't yet see.

And we are heard! When we don't have the words and we can't even coalesce our thoughts and our pain is too deep for us to comprehend, much less process, the Holy Spirit is alongside of us, helping us bear it, groaning - groaning! - as He takes what we cannot utter, what we cannot understand, and lays it before God for us.

"And He who searches the hearts knows ..."

It is precisely because He knows the whole story, precisely because He is the faithful witness and the one who loves us, as Revelation 1:5 says, that the week is also designated as the Sunday of hope. Not hope in the sense of "I hope it warms up today," but hope that knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that we will not be left in the darkness because He has come to us; hope that says, "I don't know all the answers; I don't know why things are happening the way they are; I don't know where I fit in the grand scheme of things. But I know the One who knows the end from the beginning. And that's enough for today."


  1. T0 early to post you need your sleep.

  2. Thanks Karyn... that IS enough for today! Praise to the One who knows the end from the beginning.

  3. Thank you for this message; an answer to my prayer for clarity this week. Unravelling the Latin helps, and your additional comments seal it. (Funny - I've been thinking of Miss MacDonald in the last month. Here she is again. God bless her.)


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