Advent Devotional, Nov. 28: “Unexpected Advent” by Tony Robinson
If you were in church yesterday, and if your church read the traditional lessons for Advent, you may have noticed that this season of preparation for Christmas does not begin as we might expect.
Advent does not begin in soft-focus and with images of peace and joy. Advent begins with a flood, a thief in the night and the Son of Man coming upon clouds with power and glory. These images can be puzzling and disorienting. It’s a safe bet that they aren’t what we were expecting for the holidays.
What’s going on here? Why such disturbing, even terrifying, images when what we expect and want in this season is something peaceful and light-filled, a quiet respite from the evil and violence that is so much a part of our world?
The coming of Christ here, early in Advent, is understood as God’s invasion of territory that is under the sway of the terrible powers of sin and evil. Christ comes as a warrior whose healing works are not only acts of compassion, but assaults on the power of evil and the way it disfigures lives and communities. One more thing—Christ comes to enlist us in the battle against such evil powers.
Before you dismiss this as primitive or superstitious, think about some of the most popular stories and movies of our time. Think “Hunger Games” or “Game of Thrones.” These, too, are stories about a battle between good and evil. Why are such sagas so appealing?
Perhaps because they tell us something true. That evil is real, that there is a struggle underway, and that you and I have a crucial role to play.
Advent with its powerful images of Christ invading a sin-sick world, and its calls to us to “watch,” to be “alert,” and to “resist” is similar. While this may not be the Advent we expect, it may be the Advent we need.
Come, Lord Jesus, you who were, “Born on Christmas Day to save us all from
Satan’s power when we had gone astray.”
United Church of Christ Stillspeaking Devotional Published by Pilgrim Press. Shared with permission of the publisher.