I admit it, I have spent way too many hours of my life watching HGTV. I love house hunting shows, but I also love home renovation shows. I especially like it when they set out to renovate and restore an entire house. Of course, the best part of those shows is The Big Reveal.
Have you noticed they always take a commercial break just before the good stuff is showcased? We spend 20 (or 50) minutes journeying with the homeowner and we know something really great is about to happen aaaaaaand … cut to commercial.
Advent is like that, too. In a way, Advent reminds us we are living in the commercial break. We celebrate what has already happened, but we know something incredible is still to come.
We ask God to restore us because we recognize we’re like the fixer-uppers on HGTV. We’ve got some dry rot, popcorn ceilings, and outdated linoleum but by golly we can be beautiful again if only God will restore us.
We celebrate Advent because we understand our deep need for renovation–our need to change our lives from the inside out. Our need for a savior.
One of my favorite Advent songs is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Verse one says, “O come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here.” If our show stopped at the commercial break, that’s where we’d be left — in lonely exile, begging for a transformation. But, in Advent we prepare for the coming of Jesus as a vulnerable infant. We celebrate that God chose to become human to reach us in a new and incredible way. We celebrate Advent because we know that Emmanuel HAS come to ransom captive Israel, to restore God’s people.
And yet, the world still isn’t perfect, is it? On TV renovation shows, everything is finished and complete when they do the big reveal, but our God-story is different.
Advent is actually about a two-part reveal. Jesus has come, but God’s kingdom on earth is not yet fully realized.
We know the longing of Old Testament passages like Isaiah and Psalm 80 are fulfilled by the birth of Jesus, but we also recognize we feel our own deep need for a savior still today. And so we prepare to celebrate Jesus’s birth, AND we wait for our true hope to be fulfilled. We live in the already-and-not-yet.
In churches across the world, Christians declare the mystery of our faith: Christ died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
We yearn for more of God’s presence in the world, in our nation, in our church, in our family, and perhaps most of all, in ourselves. Advent reminds us our yearning will not be wasted. And so we sing the refrain, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.”
In other words, we live in the commercial break; we know the story isn’t finished. The Big Reveal is coming!
Do you see yourself as a fixer-upper? What would you most like God to renovate within you or your life? How does the hope of Advent influence and inform that desire? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.