Setting the Stage
The Bangor Daily News recently ran a pretty extensive article on the often-cited approaching doomsday of December 21st, 2012 as set forth by the Mayan calendar. While most scoff at the possibility of there being any credibility to the Mayan prediction, there are conspiracy theorists and “doomsday preppers” that aren’t taking any chances- stocking up on everything from nonperishable food items to guns and ammo.
However, from the Christian perspective the reality of The End of our time here on earth coming before our natural death is nothing to be scoffed at. And even if it comes after we die, our short time alive must be spent in preparation.
During this Christmas season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ which marks the first time the Creator of this world came to earth to live side-by-side with His creation. But during that visit, a point in history now 2012 years ago by which all time has since been measured, He was just setting the stage. It’s when Jesus comes again, the day and hour no person knows (see Mk 13:32 and Mt 24:36), that He will close the deal. When He returns no amount of nonperishable food items or guns and ammo will serve any purpose, and for the believer these items will certainly not be necessary.
With Christmas we remember that God has come already to set certain events in motion, but as we live today he’s not yet ready to bring things to a close. For that, we should all be thankful. But this age of grace will not last forever.
In the above-referenced BDN article there is also a poll that asks, “Do you believe the world will end in your lifetime?” We are forced to choose one of two answers, “Yes” or “No”. But for the Christian two other answers would have been more appropriate- “I don’t know” or “I hope so!”.
The Promise of Advent
So how does all this correlate to Advent, a season most Christians relate to sturdy, decorative paper calendars with 25 little “windows” to open each day of December? The true significance of The Advent season, marked by the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas, is not about paper calendars at all. It represents the situation of God’s people as we wait for Jesus to return to bring his eternal kingdom (a point in time that will certainly be the beginning of this world’s end).
A common refrain you hear from a Christian is “Come Lord Jesus, come”, and that is especially true this time of year. A familiar Christmas carol that best expresses this sentiment of Advent is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” as “Emmanuel” means “God, with us”- leading our cry with this song to translate to “Come God, be with us [again]”… Just typing those words stirs a longing in my soul. Amen.
Advent is intended to be a season of reflection, as well as one of anticipation. Anticipation that the violence, evil, and death in this world will be no more. Come Lord Jesus and put an end to the tears caused by those things, and establish a new heaven and new earth where there will be no more suffering, and no more pain (Rev 21:4). This is the promise of the Christian truth. And it’s accessible to whosoever calls on the name of Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:13). Whosoever means everyone- you, me, everyone- no matter what you have believed until now, or have done in the past.
The Great Expectation
To the people that scoff at any sort of end of the world prediction, be it Mayan or Christian, I want to ask what is so far-fetched with this realm in which we currently suffer from being over and done with at some unknown time to come? The lives of family and friends, as well as our own lives, are here today and then gone before we know it- like a vapor or mist (James 4:14).
Therefore, why is it beyond so many to accept that like our lives, this world will someday be gone as well? For the Christian, this ending is a good thing- the great expectation. It’s a promise that will be fulfilled.
The last Sunday of Advent this year is December 23, 2012, two days after the Mayan doomsday prediction. Let us celebrate that Sunday that the world did not end, and take some time to appreciate life between the two comings of Christ- reflecting on His birth with Christmas- and anticipating when He will return to establish His kingdom to make all things right. And finally, let’s be thankful God has given His creation more time to accept and expect this promise to be fulfilled- at least for now.
Have a Happy Advent Season and Merry Christmas. Grace and Peace.
Excerpts for this article came from: The essence of Advent | The Resurgence. It is worth a read if you want to dig deeper.