I feel it necessary to provide a disclaimer for the forthcoming reflections as we near Christmas Day. The goal of Advent is to whet our appetite. As I mentioned in our first Advent Reflection, contrary to our culture’s commercialization of this holiday season, Advent is about anticipation, not arrival, and just so is intended to heighten our appreciation of the arrival of Christmas when it comes. Looking forward to anything is half the joy of its arrival.
But the anticipation of Advent is not simply an attempt to heighten our appreciation for the arrival of Christ’s first coming; it is also, and more centrally, an attempt to heighten our anticipation of Christ’s second coming. A Christian is a person who believes both that Jesus Christ has come to offer us salvation from our sins and is coming back to complete our salvation by judging the world in righteousness. Advent, then, is intended to orient us to the future we are called to anticipate, to hope in, and to invest in, so that we do not waste out time and our investments in false hopes and dead-end futures.
With that said, in keeping with the true spirit of Advent, as we near Christmas Day the goal of these reflections is to increase our longing for the return of Christ. So if these reflections seem to be moving away from the Christmas spirit, I can assure you the movement is intentional and, in my best judgment, is moving us more deeply into the true Christmas spirit, not away. The world darkens before the Light comes (Jn. 3:19). But as the days grow dimmer, hope becomes clearer. May God help us learn how to long for him.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel…