God in Our Sorrows
The Advent is where God meets us in our sorrow.
The word advent means an arriving or an appearing. It's the arrival of something we hoped for, something we anticipated. It's when something we had predicted finally happens. God brought about the Advent of his son in a way that was different from how we expected it to be. We expected a warrior. We expected someone to come with great military power and dramatic flair to solve all of our problems. But God came in utmost obscurity. He came to a man and a woman who were first migrants and then refugees. His first cries would have ricocheted off a stonewall in the back of a cave and startled dumb beasts. It wasn't the Advent we were expecting; it was the Advent we needed. God came into our littleness, our lostness, and our wondering, Does anybody care? Do I matter in any way?
I want to talk about how God meets us in our sorrow. I want to talk about the meaning of Advent and how God meets us uniquely in the whole range of our human experience—the good, the bad, the bright, the dark, the up, the down. This is the meaning of Advent. How good it is that he didn't appear as we had anticipated—as a coming warrior—but instead as a child, the little one, the crucified one. It's Good News for those of us who sometimes feel the weight of simply living.
There's a passage in Isaiah 53 that's absolutely magnificent. The prophet Isaiah—powered by the Holy Spirit—forecasts the coming of the Messiah 800 years before it happens. It's tragic that the Jewish people didn't understand this particular text about the coming of Christ, because it is the premier passage indicating that the coming Messiah will not show up with the military prowess they are expecting. Instead, ...
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Mark Buchanan is an Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Ambrose Seminary in Calgary, Alberta, and the author of numerous books including Your Church is too Safe.