I am reminded again and again that the season of Advent (the four Sundays leading up to Christmas) is a time of hope. As a child it was all about the hope that comes from presents (Starbucks Gift Cards are never a bad gift…the same is true for golf related items…I will stop there), but as I have grown older I have come to realize my hope in the season is much different. My hope is that even in the midst of a season that seems to be all about “stuff” (especially after Black Friday) there is hope that the way things are isn’t the way they will always be. There is hope that the people we see who have nothing will some day have something, the homeless will have homes, the marginalized will no longer be in the margins. I am hopeful not just that Jesus came as a child, but that Jesus is coming again. I am hopeful that his Kingdom is breaking in here and now, that we live in the in-between. I am convinced we see the Kingdom of God breaking in day in and day out. We see it in those moments with family and friends that are unforgettable, we see it when we see the excitement of children, we see it when an occasional conversation over coffee becomes a holy moment, and we even see it in church gatherings when the Spirit’s presence is evident.
I am hopeful not just at the way the world is, but hopeful that God is making it new. John’s words from Revelation 21 are hopeful for us today. God is not blowing up what is, but redeeming and restoring all that we see.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
God is making all things new and that is hope this season. I will leave you with these words from NT Wright from an article called Apocalypse Now?
“We do not yet see peace and justice hand in hand. The very first Christian writer known to us, the apostle Paul, wrestled with this question and came up with a clear solution. The hope arrives in two stages. Jesus’ resurrection was the prototype, the beginning and the model for the new world that is yet to be. His coming out of the tomb into a new life was the personal, close-up equivalent of the Israelites emerging from their slavery in Egypt. The hope is that God will eventually do for the whole creation what he did for Jesus; God is at work in the present, by the Spirit of Jesus, to prepare the world for that great remaking, that great unveiling (that great apocalypse, in fact) of the future plan. But that future, when it arrives, will not mean the abandonment of the present world, but rather its fulfillment.”