During Advent, it’s as if we are re-enacting the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. Then at the end of the four weeks of Advent, Christmas is a heartfelt celebration because that ancient waiting is done.
And yet we are still waiting.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8:22-23)
Our spiritual redemption came to us with the baby of Bethlehem. But still, “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
There is suffering and tragedy still, even for Christians. Someone we love is dying. We may be in pain. Sometimes we have trouble believing God’s promises. In other words, our redemption is not complete. We are waiting for the redemption of our bodies—waiting for Jesus’ second advent, for him to come again.
So here we stand in the middle. Advent is a season of looking back, thinking how it must have been, waiting for the promised salvation of God, not knowing what to expect. And at the same time, it is a season of looking ahead, waiting eagerly, and preparing ourselves to meet Jesus at his Second Coming.
(Adapted from Treasuring God in Our Traditions)