Have you ever thought of the advent season like a double-sided arrow? You know, like the ones on the hiking trails telling you to keep going to stay on the path? Advent points, both forward and backward because we desperately need reminded of both.
We need reminded to look backwards because Christ’s birth, embedded in real time, real space in history, give us surety of His love for us today. We need reminded to look backwards because his faithful, perfect life on earth provides the only ground for our justification today. And we need to look backwards because only “it is finished” can bring security to our souls.
Likewise, advent points forward because we live in the “already but not yet” between the two comings of Christ. Just as the Old Testament saints longed for Christ’s birth, we find our hearts united with theirs in longing for Christ’s consummated return. Something feels so wrong about the world we live in, both the evil and suffering surrounding us and the fight of sin within. And well it should, for we are yet in the climax of the redemptive story. The antagonist still seems like he has the upper hand. The battle-harried soldiers are weary and disheartened. And we are left wondering when the King will finally return to rally the troops for the final victory.
This Christmas, why not mix in some hopeful songs of Christ’s return with your carols to remind you of the ultimate hope of Christmas: Christ’s return? Recently, I created a “Christ’s coming playlist,” and I’ve enjoyed discovering new songs to reset my mind on this hope.
Lord, this Christmas season, help me to look back at your first coming with gratitude and look ahead to your second coming with hope. Whatever other hopes are dissolving around me, ground my heart in the sure hope of seeing you face-to-face.
 Some of my favorites on the playlist are Even So Come (Chris Tomlin), One Day (Matt Redman), Emmanuel’s Land (Audrey Assad), and