Advent = Parousia - At Advent we anticipate the coming of the Kingdom that will be fully established when Christ returns. Hope in the Second Coming when Jesus will bring full Peace and make all things right - O Come Emmanuel - God with us.
Isaiah 11:1-10 "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious."
This is a picture of the Peace that Jesus brings, but we have not fully experienced it yet, have we? This is the "Now, but Not Yet" of the Kingdom. Jesus' first coming was a deposit, a planting of a tiny seed that is growing and that is bearing fruit and will eventually become the largest of the plants and trees in the garden. Jesus' first coming was like yeast that is now working through the whole dough, transforming everything from the inside out. We see it in part, but one day we will see it in full.
So, when we celebrate the Advent, we are not just looking forward to Christmas and celebrating Christ's first coming. We are ALSO looking forward to the Second Coming when the dwelling of God will be with men and there will be no more conflict or war or death - when death will be fullly swallowed up in Victory.
The song, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" speaks to this. This song is the "O Antiphons" of the Western Church sung at the nightly Vespers the last week of Advent before Christmas (Dec. 17-23) put to music. They come from Isaiah 11 and have been sung and prayed in the Church since the 500's, at least, in anticipation of the Coming of Messiah.
1. A devotional composition sung responsively as part of a liturgy.
Each one is a title for the Messiah and refers to the Isaiah 11 prophecy.
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
O Clavis David
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
O Rex Gentium
O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.
O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.
Philip Jenkins wrote about this the other day regarding "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel":
Each antiphon gives one of the divine titles associated with messianic prophecy, with a prayer, each rooted in scripture . . . And roughly, J.M. Neale’s hymn translates the antiphons in that sequence. You thus work through the whole development of the Old Testament, so that you are then ready to welcome the Christian message on Christmas morning. As has been noted, the titles have a special resonance in Latin. “In the traditional arrangement, when viewed from Christmas Eve backward, the first letters of the Latin texts (Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia) spell out the phrase ero cras (“I come tomorrow”).”
That “coming” reminds us that Christmas is only a foretaste, a first draft, of the Second and final coming, a point that does not appear as much as it might in the year’s Christmas sermons. Advent after all, adventus, is the Latin form of the Greek parousia (appearance, coming arrival). It recalls that truly ancient prayer, found in the Didache (c.100AD): Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus. And let the present world pass away! Who ever knew this was such an apocalyptic season? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2012/12/first-and-second-comings/
But, Not Peace for All - Only for those who received Him - Luke 2:34-35 says, "Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.'" We live under the myth that Christmas is a time when everyone experiences peace. The only true peace comes from Christ. Many will rise and fall according to what they do with Jesus. Will we accept Him or not?
John 1:9-13 says - "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." For those who receive Christ and make room for Him in their hearts and lives, they are the ones who will be called children of God. Sonship and being included into God's family and being made right with God is not for everyone despite the number of those who want to push in on the Christmas celebrations. It is for those who receive Christ. While Jesus offers His life to everyone, only those who receive Him and accept Him for who He says He is get to experience the peace of God.
The peace that we are looking for - Shalom - where all things are made right between us and God and between all men - can only be found through hoping in Jesus, the Messiah. We look to Him in Hope and we look forward to His coming. HE is the One that we speak of, hope in, look to, and trust. Jesus is coming back to make all things new and the promise of His return is hidden in the celebration of Christmas. Now, but not yet - but one day soon.