Advent is a season in which we have one foot in the world of “not yet,” and one foot in the world of “here and now.”
The Old Testament prophets were all too aware of this cognitive dissonance, the constant conflict of knowing, “God is here…but His Kingdom seems so far away.” I have no need to remind anyone of the chaos and sin and death that permeate our world. We all know suffering, sorrow, pain, and death. We all know what it’s like to despair and to lose hope. The difference for Christians is that in Christ there is a promise. The Kingdom of God is coming. It’s going to get better than this.
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NRSV)
Isaiah saw the birth of Jesus centuries before He was born. Even in the “not yet” world, Isaiah could see that the promise of Emmanuel, “God with us” is here.
I know that Advent can be a challenging time for many of us- those who are missing loved ones, and those who can’t seem to get out of the “not yet” world.
Jesus gave us an answer to the promise of the coming of His Kingdom, and He invites us to get involved in it.
(Jesus said:)“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’
And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:31-40 (NRSV)
The Kingdom of God is not just some abstract “not yet”- but it begins in the here and now. When we as followers of Jesus start doing Jesus things- we bring His Kingdom down here to earth, if only a little bit at a time.
Martin Luther once said that Christians are to be “little Christs-” to do those things that Jesus did while He lived on earth.
How can we be “little Christs” today?