What do We Expect?....or..The Advent of Advent
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I love Advent. I don’t love it because it means Christmas is almost here, although that is definitely a bonus. I love it because we celebrate a liminal period, a time between, a time of anticipation. It is a challenging time. It is a time packed with different emotions for different people. It is a beautiful time. It is a time of hope.
I am committing myself to doing Adventen reflections for this blog. My goal is to do them daily, starting next Sunday. I hope to explore they daily lectionary and connect it to my experiences here in Zambia as well as to the happenings of the world. Please join me and hold me accountable.
Below is a precursor, the preparatory notes and outline to the sermon I preached this past Sunday at Chimwemwe Presbyterian Church. Since I preached manuscript-free, this is the only documentation I have. Hopefully it gives some insight into my sermon preparation process as well as some material to chew on as you anticipate the coming of advent.
“I saw one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away. And his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed”—Daniel 7
“Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.”—Revelation 1
-The coming of Advent—the coming of Christ—Waiting in expectant hope
-What are we waiting for?
-Daniel, a Hebrew under the Babylonian Empire
-John of Patmos, a Christian under the Roman Empire
-Apocalyptic visions as unwilling subjects
-Daniel—the beginning of the apocalyptic visions, taking place during the beginning of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar. Narratively it takes place after Daniel survives the lions’ den under the Persian emperor Darius. Historically, it takes place before Persia takes over Babylon.
-Revelation—John’s very first vision; part of his salutation to the seven churches; just before his explanation of being imprisoned and persecuted; just before explaining the impetus of his visions and epistle
Present Global Context
-Massacres in Iraq, Lebanon, France, Nigeria, and Mali.
If the Church is simply awaiting the eschaton and not actively working for the Kingdom, what do we expect? We should expect the situations that are happening.
Present Zambian Context
-Kwacha down, Prices up
Again, if the Church is simply awaiting the eschaton and not actively working for the Kingdom, what do we expect? We should expect the situations that are happening.
Present Christian Context
-Modern apocalyptic rumors—blood moon, Obama and the Pope as antichrists, supposed Satanic roots of the national day of prayer and fasting
-Reflecting unjust society
-Coming with the clouds
-Son of Man
-ALL people—every nation, language, and tribe will praise or wail
“These are the days of Elijah, declaring the word of the Lord. And these are the days of your servant, Moses, righteousness being restored. These are the days of great trials, of famine and darkness and sword. Still we are the voice in the desert crying, ‘Prepare ye the way of the LORD!’
Behold he comes, riding on the clouds, shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call. So lift your voice, it’s the year of Jubilee, and out of Zion’s hill salvation comes!”
-The clouds are coming in at the beginning of this rainy season. The clouds are coming
-Christmas is coming
-Christ is coming
WHAT DO WE EXPECT?
The Good News
-We have a God who is the ALPHA and the OMEGA, who is and who was and who is to come!
-Our vision need not be focused on the end times. Our vision needs to be focused on the Kingdom. For he will come like a thief in the night, when we least expect him. But he also comes like a King riding on the clouds. And like a baby born in a stable. And like a friend to the poor and the prostitutes and the immigrants. And like a prisoner and criminal under the oppressive reign of empire.
-What did people expect with the coming of the messiah? What do we expect with the coming of the messiah?
Outline: What do we expect?
The Apocalyptic Genre—Visions of Expectation
Present Global Context—WHAT DO WE EXPECT?
Present Zambian Context—WHAT DO WE EXPECT?
WE ARE IN NEED OF A SAVIOR! WE ARE IN NEED OF A MESSIAH!
Explanation of Advent: Waiting with expectant hope; the season leading up to Christmas
Present Christian Context of waiting: WHAT DO WE EXPECT?
What did people expect with the coming of the Messiah?
When Jesus did come, he made it clear that we are not simply sitting, waiting, wishing
-Daniel and John of Patmos clearly were doing activities that got them persecuted, arrested, exiled, thrown into the lion’s den
If we truly want the Kingdom to come, then we should be working for that Kingdom. We should be defying empires.
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior ,for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty!”
Jesus Christ already came and started this Kingdom. This Advent may we expect faith. May we expect action. May we expect righteousness in each other. May we have expectant hope for a Kingdom that we are helping to build.