Advent 1: Look Up, Your Redemption is Drawing Near!**

In Advent, Christmas, Contemplation, Culture, Delight in God, Desire, Discipleship, Formation by BizgaineyLeave a Comment

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, suggests that we are a people of deep and unending desire.  He further states that our unending quest for satisfaction reveals a deeper and often confounding truth about what it means to be human!

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”

We are a people of deep desire.  We find, unfortunately, that our desires often remain unfulfilled.  ItMasterMinds Group Lewis Tolkien Williams Barfield seems we are an ever longing and always wanting people.

The shopping saturated Christmas season is one of our most prolific expressions of this reality.

Many of us will search and seek and hunt and barter; attempting to find items – items that we hope will bring us joy.

But we long for more than mere items and the joy possessions can provide.

Perhaps it is from this perspective that we can best hear the words of the prophet in Isaiah 64:1 when he exclaims:

Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down!

Isaiah pictures the heavens as a vast curtain concealing God.  He asks that God would rip them apart and step into his world with his presence felt!

Isaiah’s yearning, his desire, is so deep that he asks for God’s fullest and most awesome presence.

In this yearning and longing – expressed in Isaiah’s posture of watching for and waiting on God – his desires (for God’s presence to burst forth) are unearthed by and aimed toward God in the hope that He will come down, dine, and dwell with us!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who spent his final days in a Nazi military prison, suggests the season of Advent is a time in which our desires are often unearthed, yet increasingly misdirected.

He goes imagine Advent as a season in which aim our desires toward God.

A season of deep and lasting transformation.

A transformation that grabs us and moves us into a deeply meaningful relationship with the God of redemption.

In his Essential Writings, we read,

“Advent creates new men and women.  Look up, you whose eyes are fixed on this earth, you who are captivated by the events and changes on the surface of this earth.  Look up, you whose eyes are laden with tears, you who mourn the loss of all that the earth has snatched away.  Look up, you who cannot lift up your eyes because you are so laden with guilt.  “Your redemption is drawing near.”†

Advent is the season in the historic Christian calendar that signifies a period of watching and waiting for God: who is unguarded in glory and unmatched in mystery (http://www.transformingcenter.org/2015/11/entering-advent-hurry-wait/). This season of waiting on and watching for the Messiah provides an opportunity for unearthing our deepest desires and aiming them toward Christ in the hope of his presence with us.

What might we find when we look up toward our Lord whose redemption draws near, rather than at the lure and luster of purchases that will not satisfy, ones that leave us longing for more?

The Scriptures indicate at least three discoveries unearthed when we wait on and watch for God.  They are,

  • A God whose face shines down on us!
  • One who is the embodiment of glory!
  • A God of divine mystery!

A GOD WHOSE FACE SHINES ON YOU!

“Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock.  O God, enthroned above the cherubim, display your radiant glory to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, Show us your mighty power. Come to rescue us!  Turn us again to yourself, O God.  Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.  7 Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies.  Make your face shine down upon us.” ~ Ps. 80:1 – 3 & 7

The phrase “make your face shine down upon us” is a beautiful and oft-repeated prayer of the Hebrew nation. It’s one which celebrates the hope of blessing, the joy of presence. It’s a blessing reminiscent of Aaron’s blessing in Numbers.

One given and received by God’s people century after century.

Remarking on this ancient benediction, Dallas Willard notes,

“There’s so much about the face of God in the Bible.  One of the most precious things that we can have is living before the shining face of God.  Now, if you have trouble with the shining face, find a grandparent somewhere and watch their face shine on their grandchild; that can give you a little idea.  There is such radiance that comes out of a person with a shining face.  And your face is meant to shine.  Glory is meant to be shared from God to human beings.  Glory always shines.  It always shines.”

Why engage in watchful waiting?  Waiting on and watching for the God reveals the wonder of His glory and majesty of His mystery.

GOD UNGUARDED IN GLORY AND UNMATCHED IN MYSTERY

“As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble.  Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!  3 When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.  And oh, how the mountains quaked!  For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!”  Isaiah 64:2 -4

Isaiah – as he waits on and watches for God – envisions a God whose awesome presence brings His might, power, and deliverance to the very people who wait for Him! Isaiah’s words match his tone!

Words that are dripping with wonder and awe!

His God is awesome!

In a world of over promise and under delivery, this truth of God’s awesome power in His presence is refreshing indeed!

His mystery and wonder dig deeply into our soul!

Those places of discomfort, sin, problem, and pain – and reveals the inner deficiencies within and all around us.

At the same time, the mystery reveals a God who not only covers those deficiencies but crafts good from them and shapes us by them!

As you enter the Advent season, my hope for you is that you will wait on and watch for God.  As you do, become aware of the desires this season unearths.  Then, rather than aiming them toward consumption, aim them toward the Christ-child and the powerfully disruptive love of the Father!

Disrupting to Renew!

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
‡Dallas Willard, Living in Christ’s Presence, page 166.

**Previously posted on disruptus (2015).  Edit and reposted 2018.

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