Monday, November 30
The season of Advent began on Sunday. It will continue during the next three weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. Advent simply means arrival. Historically and liturgically, it is a time for the church to prepare for the arrival of Jesus. In his first Advent, Jesus arrives as a baby who will eventually die as God’s appointed man for the sins of the world.
The season of Advent is also about the second coming of Jesus. At that future time, Jesus will return as the liberating King! In the way, his second coming will finish what he started in his first coming.
Advent, then, is a sacred season of longing, hope, and preparation. Before his death, Jesus instructed us to prepare for his return in the way we are present with one another. When we are graciously and humbly present with one another, we are pointing each other toward Jesus’s first and second coming. In his first coming, Jesus took care of the penalty of our sin through his death on the cross. In his second coming, Jesus will rid creation of the presence of sin. This is our salvation! Freed of the penalty of sin and hoping for the day when sin will be no more, we are prepared to be present with one another with hope and mercy.
To be present with one another includes identifying with and serving one another’s needs. This is exemplified in the life of Jesus. John says of his first arrival, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (Jn 1:14).
Even in his departure from this earth, Jesus didn’t leave his disciples alone in the world. He continues to be present with us and among us through the Holy Spirit. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you,” (John 16:13-15).
Filled with the Holy Spirit, then, we are enabled with the fruit of the Spirit to be present with one another. During these weeks of Advent, instead of focusing solely on what presents to give one another, let’s be give the gift of our presence, which is filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Paul calls this life between the two Advents of Jesus “life in the Spirit.” It is a fruitful life, not a frugal life. It is a life based upon the grace and mercy of God; not on the riches or gifts of man. Paul says this life isn’t governed by the law (Galatians 5:23), by the joy of giving and loving others as we have been loved.
We often underestimate the power of our presence in each other’s lives. During this first week of Advent, look for ways to give the gift of your time to someone. Be still and be engaged with someone so that the fruit of Holy Spirit will be a blessing to them.
Be present with them in the same way God is with you: Jesus, Immanuel!