We all hope for a better world.
This is what the season of Advent is about for me. Hope. Hope that the world will be better place.
Advent looks forward in three ways. To the coming of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, to the coming of God into our lives and Jesus returning at the end of the age.
The danger here is that we spend too much time preparing for Christmas that we miss out on the hope of Jesus returning. Or conversely, that we spend so much time thinking about Jesus coming again that we make everything to be about good and evil in a spiritual sense, overspiritualising the story, forgetting that Jesus first coming in Bethlehem all those years ago was a physical event. God became human because God cares for how we live in a physical sense.
Jesus started his ministry saying, “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” or, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.” He sent out his disciples to preach the same thing. He showed that God is concerned about people by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, Quoting the prophet Isaiah he she summed what he came for this way:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Liberty for captives and the oppressed is good news to the poor, literally. This is no figurative spirituality, but showing God’s concern for justice.
The story of Christmas is that God is concerned about the poor and the hungry, the sick and crippled, God favours the underdog whose voice is not heard by people with power and influence. This started to break through in the world when Jesus came, and was fulfilled when he was killed, raised from the dead and ascended to Heaven.
There is a fuller fulfilment when Jesus Christ returns. But while we wait and hope for this we can say with confidence that God is with us and that the kingdom of God has come.