December 2023

I recently “stumbled” across an article written by a former professor of mine, Edwin Chr. van Driel entitled “What is Jesus Doing? Christological Thoughts for an anxious church and tired pastors”. In, rediscovering this forgotten gem, I find a renewed sense of hope and strength as we enter into this Advent season.  What follows are my observations on the power of this and every Advent season.

Advent: A Season of Active Waiting and Present Encounter

Advent, often eclipsed by the bustling activities surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas, holds a profound significance in the Christian calendar. It's not merely a countdown to Christmas; it's a time to reflect on the multifaceted presence of Jesus Christ - past, present, and future.

Christ's work didn't cease with the events of the cross or His ascension. Rather, these pivotal moments marked the beginning of a new mode of His presence and work among us. The ascended Jesus isn’t a distant figure, passively waiting to return. Instead, He is actively involved in our world, working through us and with us. This is vividly captured in Ephesians 4:8, where Christ’s ascension is described as Him equipping His people with gifts, and in Mark 16:20, where His ongoing work with His disciples is affirmed.

Van Driel's thesis invites us to see Advent as a celebration of Christ's dynamic presence. Jesus is not only the historical figure we read about in the Gospels or the future king we await; He is also the living Christ, working in and through us today. This understanding transforms our view of Advent from passive waiting to active participation in Christ's ongoing work of reconciliation and redemption.

This perspective reshapes our Advent experience. It's not just about looking back at Jesus' birth or forward to His return; it's about recognizing and celebrating His presence now. As John 3:16 reminds us, God's love is not a past event or future promise but a present reality. In our gatherings, in the sacraments, and in our everyday lives, Christ is actively present (Matthew 18:20, 28:20). This presence is not a mere theological concept; it's a tangible, transformative reality that impacts how we live, serve, and minister.

Thus, Advent becomes a season of heightened awareness of Jesus’ ongoing activity in the world. It's a time to be watchful, prepared, and actively engaged in the work Christ is doing today. This re-envisioning of Advent, informed by van Driel’s insights, calls us to a deeper, more dynamic faith – one that sees Christ not only in the pages of Scripture or in future hope but also in the here and now of our daily lives.

In celebrating Advent, we are not just marking time but actively participating in the life and work of Christ. We await His return, yes, but we also embrace His presence and action in our lives today. This is the joy and the challenge of Advent: to live fully in the reality of Christ's presence, anticipating His future coming while actively engaging in His work in the present.

Happy Advent, as we together celebrate and participate in the ongoing, active presence of Jesus in our lives and in the world!

Pastor Greg