Summary: What if we anticipated the second coming of Jesus Christ the way we anticipate the new Star Wars movie?
December 18, 2015 is the date everyone…and I mean everyone…has been waiting on. That’s the date the latest installment of Star Wars will be released. It must be the most anticipated coming attraction of all time. Star Wars: The Force Awakens begins again (or continues, whichever way you look at it) one of the most lucrative film franchises of all time. According to CinemaBlend, in 2005 it looked like the Star Wars saga was officially over. Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox released Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which completed the prequels trilogy and tied the story back to the first film in the series. It was done, finished, kaput, and ended. But then, along came Disney.
In October 2012, the studio brokered a $4.05 billion deal to buy Lucasfilm, and with the deal came the announcement that they would be starting production on a whole new trilogy of Star Wars films that would keep the epic story going for years and years to come. Naturally, fanboys started to foam at the mouth with anticipation. What would the new movies be about? Would they bring back classic characters or merely focus on new ones? Would there be new stories set outside of the trilogy? For three years, fans have been anticipating the return of the Star Wars franchise. Actually, for some it’s been ten years. And, we know Disney is the master marketer, and the trailer and the pre-release marketing has only heightened the anticipation.
May I ask you a question? What if we anticipated the arrival of Jesus Christ the same way? The Advent season begins this morning. Do we enter it with the same expectancy we would if we were in theaters and we saw the preview of a coming attraction we so greatly wanted to see? We should embrace the Advent season as a time of preparation, but also as a season of anticipation. We prepare the sanctuary by hanging the greens, and we adorn the church with decorations and poinsettias and nativity scenes because, after all, the Advent season is the season when we look with anticipation to the coming of the Christ-child.
Advent means “coming” or “arrival,” and we focus on his arrival by setting out our prettiest nativity set for all to see. I find the traditions interesting as I have pastored from region to region. Oh, no church I’ve pastored has ever failed to set out the nativity, but what each does with the baby Jesus is interesting. Some churches never think a second think about putting out the baby when the set is put out. Decorate for the season and baby Jesus goes in the manger. Other churches, who consider themselves “liturgically correct” would never consider putting out the baby Jesus until Christmas Eve. I even heard of one church that would move the baby Jesus to a different place each week so the people would have to look to find him. I suppose that’s where someone got the idea for the Elf on the Shelf.
The Advent season is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Today’s passage reminds us that there is yet a “second” advent looming on the horizon, and as we reflect on the meaning of the first advent we must prepare, we must “get ready” for the dawning of the second.