The Glory of Christ and His Bride
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
So many scary words are coming at us — “further restrictions,” “lock downs,” “infection rates,” “grim milestones”— it’s no wonder we might feel scared.
How about these words instead?
Peace. Great Joy. Don’t be afraid. Good news.
They’re the words of the Angel to the terrified shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem: “Don’t be afraid—I bring you good news of great joy for everyone everywhere!”
For many, 2020 has felt like one long groan. Between the pandemic, a struggling economy, the isolation of quarantine and online school, civil unrest, racial injustice, wildfires, hurricanes, a noisy election, and divisive public discourse, this year has reminded us again and again of our mortality, lack of control, and collective brokenness. As 2020 comes to a close, we long—perhaps like never before—for hope, love, joy, and peace.
In other words, 2020 has primed us for the ache of Advent.
Advent is a season set aside for waiting and watching, longing and looking for the Messiah. Through calendars, wreaths, and more, we lean into the tension of anticipation, counting down the days until Christ’s arrival with expectancy and hope. Even as we celebrate Christ’s first arrival, we watch and ache for his promised second coming, when God will dwell with us forever and everything fractured will be made new (Rev. 21:3-5).
As 2020 comes to a close, we long—perhaps like never before—for hope, love, joy, and peace.
As Christians, this ache should not be surprising, unfamiliar, or even relegated to the Advent season. In Romans 8, Paul says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now . . . [and we too] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Elsewhere Paul says, “In this tent, we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (2 Cor. 5:4), and “We live godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12b-14).
Groaning, aching, and longing pervade the pages of Scripture. These emotions should mark the Christian life not just during Advent, but all year long. Yet many of us—especially Western Christians—don’t resonate with these themes.
That is, until something like 2020 comes our way.
Eugene Peterson once said, “A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.” If we let it, 2020 can whet our appetite for the kingdom of God and for Jesus, her glorious King.
This year has shaken idols, uprooted comforts, reminded us of our mortality, and brought a new awareness of the brokenness around us. As this difficult year draws to a close, Advent gives us the opportunity to voice both the unwavering hope we have in Jesus and the longing cry, “How long, O Lord?” And when that long-awaited Day of rejoicing comes, it will be all the more glorious for the ache we experience now, like the dawn after a long darkness, or a distant garden blooming in the desert.
If we let it, 2020 can whet our appetite for the kingdom of God and for Jesus, her glorious King. Psalm 45 prepares us for the Bridegroom. This second Sunday of Advent we will open the Word of the Lord to Psalm 45 to revel in the glory of the King and of his bride, the church.
Lord willing, we will join back together for worship this week. Everyone is doing well, and all tests have been negative. Come and join us in person for worship. You need it. And we need you. I look forward to seeing you this Lord’s Day.
For Christ and His Kingdom,