Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year (literally). Often we need a message of hope during times that are dark (figuratively). The coming of Jesus gives us that kind of hope. A hope that helps us reckon with the darkness in ourselves. And that helps us reckon with the darkness of the world. It is a hope that springs up like new growth from a tree stump.
Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand… Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees.
John the Baptist (Matthew ch. 3)
Isaiah prophecies that the stump of David’s father, Jesse, will sprout new growth, a “Branch” anointed with the Spirit to bring justice and make the wolf and the lamb dwell peaceably together. Jesse’s house looks dead, but it will rise again.
Advent isn’t supposed to soothe us. It doesn’t teach us to be stoic in the face of the irreparable damage of the world. It doesn’t teach us to be piously hopeless. Advent celebrates the Creator’s arrival to repair the damage of sin, judging and making new. Advent comforts because it promises final restoration, justice, and peace. Advent encourages us to persevere in trials and injustice because it demonstrates that God has pledged to make all things new. Advent unveils a God so determined to fulfill His purpose that he did not spare his own Son but freely delivered him up for us all.
Faith is like a forward memory, allowing us to believe as if what is promised has already happened.
Then I saw a new heavens and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more.