With praises to God, we have come full circle; and here we are again at the beginning of a new Church year: ADVENT. It means many things to many people, both in the Church and in the secular world. Politics continues at fever pitch all around the world, as we see the trading of parties, programmes and positions by personalities, keeping the media ever busy with their own interpretations and sentiments.
COVID-19 has been the global monster that has changed the face of the world this year, making nonsense of predictions about various sectors. The economic losses are unprecedented and unimaginable. In our case, we are in the clutches of a real recession.
The echoes of #EndSARS protests and the blood on our hands leave us with bleeding hearts and troubled consciences before the watching world. For many others who cannot see the gloomy analysis or see any difference in their lifestyle as we announce Advent, it simply means the countdown to Christmas has begun. The Carols will soon begin, and we are unsure about how the celebration will be.
Advent is a time of PREPARATION. Preparation presupposes an event or something significant that cannot be approached or welcomed casually. This year, more than any other, we cannot but pay closer attention to the prophetic timetable and agenda of the end times. Things we once ignored comfortably can no longer be wished away. We are face to face with strange times.
Luke’s gospel account presents us in the early verses with a world in transition, as great historical events were unfolding. He tells us about Herod the King, Zechariah the Priest, and his family: In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth (Luke 1:5). Bringing King Herod and Priest and Mrs. Zechariah together meant Luke was about to tell us something that would shake both the political and religious setting. These two worldviews would draw in others inevitably: the economic and social equilibrium would experience a convulsion. God was about to do something new. This was announced to Zechariah.
God will yet come. That is one promise the last book of the Old Testament prophets holds out for us. As he saw the evil of his day, even among God’s people, he wrote: You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17)
We are asking similar questions. Where is God? The prophet provides an answer from God: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1). This is the time for God’s servants to wake up.
As God set the stage for the coming of the forerunner of the Messiah, preparing the Priest, so we must not give up hope.
This time of preparation is for the people of God to look inwards, and look upwards: God is coming. It cannot be business as usual, and this is not a time to get mixed up with the straying world.
As Rev E. Caswall wrote, “Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding/ “Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;/ “Cast away the dreams of darkness,/ O ye children of the day!”