Monday, November 30
All this talk of enduring and being purified! You’d think it was Lent, not Advent.
But it’s an important reminder that the Advent season isn’t ultimately about preparing our homes—or even our spirits—with all the trappings of Christmas, no matter how comforting and cheery they may be.
During Advent, we anticipate not only Christ’s coming as a babe, vulnerable and mild, but also his coming a second time in power, ready to purify and refine his people. He will come like fire, blazing hot, to burn away our impurities and leave us gleaming. He will come like detergent, painfully caustic, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and leave us soft and unstained.
The thought of being burned into purity and scrubbed into righteousness makes me want to leave Advent and run right back toward ordinary time. I’d rather not “endure the day of his coming,” if that’s what it entails. Too painful. It’s so much more comfortable to remain marred by impurities and reeking of grime.
I don’t have a choice, though. The calendar is marching toward Christmas, toward the day of his coming, and the best thing to do is to prepare, to anticipate. After all, the one who is like fire and soap is also “the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight.” Christ’s arrival is one of joy, of deep delight. He comes not to bring pain for its own sake, but to purge the unrighteousness from our hearts and from our world so that we are fit to draw near to him, to dwell with him, and to be united to him.
It seems appropriate, then, to spend our days in eager expectation, asking God to prepare us for purification by making us willing to be changed and by giving us his Spirit so we can endure. We might even ask God to begin that work now and express our desire for him to come soon.
Prayer: Prepare me, Lord, for your coming, painful though it may be. Prepare me to endure and prepare me to take delight in you.