I seem to enjoy advent more and more each year. When I force myself to repent and then move with the season into anticipation of Jesus’ second coming, my soul is reset on the right course. Repentance helps me grow weary of living in a world so troubled by sin—especially my own. I long for heaven when I will be made right as I long to be. Repentance reminds me how far I am from my truest longing to be who God created me to be. Repentance leaves me longing for heaven. I know that I will be there after Jesus’ second coming.
St. Ambrose wrote: “‘The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything.’ The Lord is always near to those who call on him in truth, in right faith, in unshaken hope, in perfect love; he knows what we require before we ask him; he is always ready in any need to help those who serve him faithfully. Hence when evils beset us, we ought not to show great anxiety; we in accordance with the words: ‘The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and will save the humble in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord will deliver them out of them all.’ If we make every effort to fulfill and keep what he has commanded, he for his part is not slow to repay us what he has promised.”
Advent’s focus on repentance and preparation for the second coming helps me reorient my soul. I not only celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ at Christmas but also realize that I am asked to be like Christ at Christmas in a world that needs to see His love in the flesh. I don’t want to waste the time I have been given to become the light of Christ in a dark and needy world.
Chris Tiegren asks and answers a question that my soul needs to consider. He wrote:
How can we do that? For one thing, we can represent Him well. We welcome those on the margins, meet the needs of the suffering and brokenhearted, offer healing and hope to the hurting and hopeless, and speak inviting words that give vision to those who hear them. When we express His attitudes and actions, we prepare for Him. And when we don’t…well, we don’t.
Christendom if full of people who speak harsh words when kindness is more appropriate, lecture about their own beliefs rather than being patient with those of others, create noise when they should be listening, act holy when they really aren’t. The kingdom doesn’t need any more of those. It needs highway pavers who know how the King rides in, people who express His heart appropriately and trust Him with the results.
I want to represent Jesus well in the new year. I want to be active in the lives of those who are important to Jesus—the poor, the rich, the broken, the prideful, the hurting, the homeless--all who bear the image of God. I want to express His attitudes and His actions because I am so in love with Him. I want to be like Him. I want to make Him proud. I want to bring glory to His name. I want everyone with whom I interact to recognize that I don’t fit in with the world.
In living that way, I show myself and the world that I have received the gift of Christmas by accepting Jesus so deeply into my heart that I begin to live like Him. In living like Him, I am preparing to meet Him and be rewarded for looking and anticipating His return. Paul promised this in 2 Timothy 4:7-8: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. All the preparing by repentance and expecting Jesus’ second coming that is the focus of Advent is pleasing to God and therefore good for my soul but also results in my living a life that God rewards!