During the early centuries after Christ the church developed the advent season. It is a season to prepare our hearts to welcome Christ. It used to be a season of fasting in some quarters, but now is probably needed more as a perspective check in the midst of consumer feasting.
Think about the tenses. It would be easy to put advent in past tense – a season to remind our hearts of the coming of Christ. That would be amazing. God become flesh and dwelling amongst us, come to die in our place, to reconcile us to God, etc. A past tense advent would be wonderful, but we have more.
Advent has future tense – it is a season to prepare our hearts to see Christ. It is not only to celebrate his birth in Bethlehem, but to stir our hearts with the hope that one day we will see our bridegroom face to face. Advent is not just about ancient Bethlehem, but also about the future meeting when the man Christ Jesus returns for his own. Because of the incarnation, we also have a hope for the future that transcends death (for a human has defeated death!) Past and future, this would be amazing. But there is one more tense:
Advent has a present tense – it is a season to prepare our hearts to encounter Christ now. Because he became one of us and the incarnation is forever, that means that we have a present tense advent too! We can be, by His Spirit, united to Christ today. What a privilege! To know him, to love him, to communicate with him, and to enjoy him now as well as forever.
Advent is a season of all the tenses! And advent begins today.
During Advent I will be posting thoughts here, on twitter (@PleasedtoDwell) and on Instagram (@peter.mead) – but to get the full deal, let me encourage you to get hold of a copy of Pleased to Dwell . . . 24 short chapters pointing us to Christ for 24 busy days when everything will try to steal our hearts away from Him!