Between the Times
Reading: 2 Peter
I was researching the Celebration of Advent the other day and came across something that impressed me. Advent, according to its original purposes, is a celebration of the birth of Christ when He came as Saviour. But Advent is also celebrated in anticipation of that moment in the future when He will return as King and Judge. The author writes: “In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. This acknowledgement provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people” (http://www.crivoice.org/cyadvent.html ).
That thought stayed with me as I read these verses from 2 Peter earlier this morning. In the last chapter of the letter, Peter refers to The Day of the Lord, that great and terrifying moment when Christ returns to take His children home and to judge the world. Peter writes: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live godly and holy lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming…So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:9-12, 14, NIV).
The world wasn’t prepared for the first Advent, for the coming of Christ as a babe in Bethlehem. Most people missed it. No one will miss His second Advent. Christ’s first Advent signaled the coming of the age of grace, the opportunity for people to repent. His second Advent will signal the end of that age when there will be no more opportunity for repentance.
We are strangers, pilgrims, wayfarers, living "between the times," celebrating one "time" while living in anticipation of another "time" that could come at any moment.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ we can’t ignore His coming as King and Judge. Christmas affords us the opportunity to talk about why Christ came. It also affords us the opportunity to renew our commitment to live lives of which we will not be ashamed when He returns.