Advent 2020: Hope on the Horizon

The most welcome Advent season of my lifetime is finally here. Yes, I know Covid cases are rapidly increasing, as are deaths. I understand the whole election deal is still causing consternation and anger across the country.

Our freedoms are being limited and anxiety still has a hold on much of our nation. In spite of all of negative storylines, the Advent season reminds us that a King has come and indeed is coming again.

2020 seems like the worst year ever. Truth is, this world is a pretty crummy place and has been for a while. As long as there have been people there have been conflicts and viruses. 2020 is not the first year in human history that we humans approach the Advent season in a less than favorable position.

Lest we forget, the power of this season lies in its origin. The Christ child was born into an occupied nation and specifically to a hopeless people group.

John the Beloved, one of the Messiah’s closest disciples, refers to Christ’s coming into the world as a light shining into the darkness — “the light shined in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.”

Have you ever seen the sun rise over the horizon? It’s a breathtaking sight. What starts as a little pinprick of light in the vast darkness, slowly rises to reveal the brilliance of the only star in our solar system. Along the way, its light eradicates every dark shadow as the night gives way to the dawn. The higher the sun gets, the brighter it shines, and the darkness is dispelled.

When Jesus took on flesh and “moved into the neighborhood”, as Eugene Peterson so eloquently put it, He brought with Him a darkness-eradicating Kingdom that has no end.

The earthly ramifications of the Kingdom’s arrival were felt in the first century among various Middle Eastern villages as hope was proclaimed, and healing was provided.

The inauguration of the Kingdom of God on earth threatened every power structure in its time. The simple phrase “Jesus is Lord” eventually turned empires and emperors into murderous maniacs.

Some 2,000-plus years later, the idea that there is a coming King who already rules over every Kingdom as we await his literal earthly coronation brings both solace and scoffing just as it did at the first Advent.

This is the messy middle. It is a time when hope has been realized, but hope’s fulness remains abstract.

Hope is on the horizon. We see its effect and understand its gravity. Even in the messiness of 2020, we realize something greater is coming.

This is Advent.

Published by Joel A. Barker

Joel A. Barker is a church planter & blogger from Nashville, Tennessee.

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