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December 7, 2011

Expectation is part of the Christian life. Regardless of who we are, we are called to expect life in midst of death. This may not seem that significant or even that demanding, but it is.


Death is all around. Everyday, people are diagnosed with life-threatening or life-ending diseases. Relationships fall apart. People live in famine, poverty, or under broken institutional structures. Individuals experience racism or discrimination. Those with little to nothing are violated. Some struggle with depression. Others die, sometimes tragically. The list goes on and on.

Though death is everywhere, it doesn’t define our existence. In the coming and the subsequent death and resurrection of Jesus, God secured the promise that life would come to our world. Therefore, Christians are to wait for this life in the midst of death. This waiting is to be done with patience and confidence because we are waiting for God, who keeps all his promises, to act. God will bring life.

If Christian expectation is waiting for the life that God promised in the midst of death, then why is it so hard? A couple of reasons. First, though God gives life now, the waves of death make it seem nonexistent. Right now, death seems to speak more loudly than life. Second, the life for which we hope will not be fully realized until Jesus’ work of redemption is finished. In other words, we will not fully experience the life for which we long until Jesus comes back.

Christian expectation is hard.

To help Christians get better at this, we are invited to practice Advent. Advent is a time of preparation and expectation. We prepare to celebrate the Son coming to earth and taking on human flesh and we expect the life that God gives to enter our world of death.

What are some ways that we can practice expectation during Advent?

First, we contemplate our sin and brokenness. Where do you feel the sting of death? What areas of your life are not working? In what ways do you continually hurt others? Yourself?

Second, we meditate on the fact that God’s knows our sin and brokenness and yet promises to bring life. He has not abandoned us but is working out our salvation.

Third, we give ourselves permission to meditate on God’s promise of life in those areas of sin and brokenness. We imagine what it will be like to have life, even full life. This is hard to do because it fosters hope. Hope is scary. Hope makes us feel vulnerable and rightly so.

Advent: a time to practice Christian expectation.

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