Advent is a time to reassess and to introspect our personal lives as well as the Christian community. It is a time to prepare our hearts to invite Jesus Christ into our lives as we await and expect the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.
We have already started planning to celebrate Christmas in various ways. Many have begun to spend their time in fasting and in prayer, contemplating and reflecting upon God’s word.
Meanwhile, there are many who might be facing economic instability. Many are poverty-stricken, and families are facing numerous hardships. The youth are struggling to get jobs, and constantly worrying about their future.
This year is particularly trying for everyone as we are faced with extraordinary miseries and hardships due to Covid-19.
-The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the entire world. Many lives are lost, and many are in bereavement. Shocked and terrified, we are all in dilemma. We are unsure of our future. It is a state of helplessness and pain.
-Christians are attacked and killed in various parts of the world. The believers dwell in fear, being persecuted and left homeless because of the faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
-Many are in search of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing. People are seeking for peace of mind in various ways possible.
At this point in time, we are reminded of the Israelites. Subjugated and humiliated, they expected their Savior, the Messiah to deliver them. However, they failed to recognize Him when He came to His people.
Isaiah 64:1-2, 4-8 is ‘A cry of misery and an appeal for mercy’.
It is considered to be part of a larger communal lament (Isaiah 63:7 – 64:12) that begins with a praise-filled account of God’s mighty acts of deliverance throughout Israel’s history.
The lament is generally associated with a post-exilic Jerusalem context. When the Persian king Cyrus defeated the Babylonians (539 BCE), he established a decree that the Jews in exile could return to their homeland. Threats, divisions, land battles and power struggles erupted among the returnees – those who had endured in the land, and those who had settled there from other places after Jerusalem was conquered in 587 BCE.
Isaiah 64:1-9 begins and ends with a request. The first request is that God would “tear open the heavens and come down…to make [God’s] name known to [God’s] adversaries” (64:1a, 2b).
The Israelites admitted that they were punished due to their iniquities, experienced as God’s anger and alienation. They appeal for God’s intervention — to heal the alienation and to halt the damage. Then the prophets uttered prophecies of hope and assured Israel that the Messiah would come to rescue them from their enemies.
However, the people of Israel expected the Messiah to come in majesty. They expected Him to come like a mighty armored King, sitting on a throne. They expected that He would destroy all the enemies of Israel by his sword as all the earthly kings did.
Though they were watchful in their own way, the Messiah did not come as they expected. The Savior had come in a very humble and unexpected manner. He was born in a manger. Nobody expected the long-anticipated Messiah, the King of the Jews to arrive in this manner.
-Jesus the Messiah had come as an ordinary human. He showed compassion on the weak and the poor, he healed the sick, and helped the blind to see, the lame to walk, and even the dead to come alive. Christ uplifted the downtrodden and mingled with the outcasts, widows and the marginalized with complete disregard for man-made barriers.
-During those times, the religious leaders had clubbed with the earthly rulers and showed no compassion over the ordinary people and neglected to rescue them. They had failed their duty to serve and care for the poor and needy people around them.
-Jesus spoke directly against the unjust structures that benefitted only the unscrupulous leaders and rulers.
-He questioned the religious leaders, the high priests, for their hypocrisy, and rebuked them for violating the religious law, the law of God and using it only for their personal gain.
-Mathew 23:13ff is a strong statement against such a situation and the people who perpetrate it. It says: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.…”
-As we witness throughout the Scriptures, Jesus subsequently challenged the corrupt socio-cultural, religious, and political structures that had been existing for years.
-Jesus taught a new direction to the believers.
Many Jews believed and received much grace and blessings from Jesus Christ. Many accepted him as their Messiah. However, it is extremely sad that many of them opposed and crucified Jesus because their expectation was entirely different.
Ultimately, the Pharisees and the Sadducees plotted for His life. They loved their personal safety and security, money, power, and position more than Christ their Savior.
They had so many selfish motives and hidden agendas that they were not really watchful in their expectation of the Coming of Christ.
Dear ones’ in Christ, how prepared and watchful are we to see the coming of Christ?
-We all need peace of mind and we need to love one another as Christ has taught us to do so.
-Healing should start by making peace with one another then only unity and harmony will prevail among nations, race, religion, culture, and gender.
-This is the will of God and the teaching of Christ to the believers.
Watchful Expectation for the Coming of Christ
The Gospel of Mark 13:28-37 mentions that the believers of Christ should await the coming of Christ. It asks believers to be awake and to be alert since no one knows when Christ will come except the Father in heaven.
Paul’s letter (I Thessalonians 5:1-11) encourages us even today. It reminds us that since we are called by God, we are all children of light; let us not fall asleep as others do but let us keep awake and be sober. Let us put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for the helmet, the hope of salvation. God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with Him.
I Cor.1:3-9 says ‘If we believe in Christ and follow according to Christ’s teaching, we too will possess…God’s grace and His faithfulness will be upon us because we have been enriched in Christ, in speech and knowledge of every kind. We will not be lacking in any spiritual gift. The witness of Christ will strengthen us. By God we are called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
May our Lord Jesus Christ heal us from all our earthly miseries. May God grant us healing and dwell among us as we patiently await the coming of Christ this Advent.
Dr Lanusenla Longkumer is a Theological Educator in Nagaland, India.
Photo by Lefty Kasdaglis on Unsplash