By Snr Ps Beh Soo Yeong
Just when we thought that COVID-19 was bad enough. Three years on, we are still grappling with the infectiousness of this constantly mutating virus. Add to that the Russian-Ukraine conflict and the rise in energy and food prices that are driving up inflation that we have not seen in decades. Closer to home, Myanmar is still under the clutches of an oppressive regime and Indonesia had just experienced an earthquake that took the lives of hundreds of people.
These events tell of a world—far and near—that is in constant flux and upheaval. If you do follow the news around the world, it can be very depressing and disconcerting. However, regardless of what is going on in the world presently, our hope is secure and certain. Our King is still on the throne, and He is coming back soon, and Advent is a vivid reminder of this reality.
Some of us will know that the word advent simply means “coming” (translated from the Latin adventus). It is the time when we remember, retell and celebrate Christ’s first coming—the beginning of our Christian journey. At the same time, Advent is not just about the first coming of Christ. It is also the time we are reminded about His imminent second coming. At the first, He came as a helpless baby, but at the second He will return as the conquering King!
All too often, we are so immersed in the here and now, that we forget about the there and then! We forget that indeed we are passing through and this world is not our home, really. Remembering Advent will give us a new set of lenses with a different perspective to the life that we now live. For the Christian church, the four Advent Sundays (or weekends) remind us of the true meaning of Christmas, that in God’s perfect time, Jesus came to redeem the world, and in time will return for us. The Advent season marks the beginning of the Christian year, where it initiates us into our Christian experience for the year ahead. Whatever your experiences were in the past year—the good, the bad, the ugly—we start afresh, beginning at the first Advent Sunday. This is also one reason why we have suspended our public streaming of our online services to encourage those who can, to return to our onsite worship services weekly. It is as if to say we stand in faith and defiant of COVID-19 and all the bad news around us!
This Advent, we will focus on the theme of Jesus: Our Anchor in Uncertain Times where we will examine and meditate over four weekends on Jesus being our Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Of course, these four weekends will culminate with Christmas where we declare in unison that Jesus is the Gift to and Light of the World. After our series on Following Jesus, I trust that this series will be a tangible collective expression of our belief in and worship of him.
Of course, Christmas is also a season where we serve, give and bless others in response to the grace and mercy of God. As such, I am thankful for the involvement of many brothers- and sisters-in-Christ who will be lighting the Advent candles. It is our simple way of involving more people to reflect on Advent and Christmas together. Besides this, we are encouraging the church to organise Christmas celebrations in small groups to reach out to their pre-believing friends and family or to get involved in the various Good Neighbours Initiatives. This will be an opportunity for us to follow Jesus to share and bless, just as we have received and been blessed richly.
So, as we mark this Advent season, let us be ready to meet the coming King. Let us pine and yearn for Christ who will return and consummate the Kingdom that He inaugurated at the first coming. Let us re-examine how we live now, in the light of His imminent coming. Have a soul-refreshing Advent!