Yesterday’s announcement from Chancellor Merkel that Germany is entering another lock-down for the month of November was, more or less, expected, given the headlines of similar announcements around Europe, but it is discouraging, nonetheless. We are moving into the eighth (ninth?) month of the Coronavirus era, but still there is a wide spectrum of opinion and experience. For some, who have had loved ones die of the virus, unable even to be with them in their final days, this has been a tragic and heartbreaking season. The new lock-down is a somber and even fearful reminder that life is forever different. For others, some of whom do not personally know a single person directly affected by the virus, the entire matter continues to be over-hyped. The new lock-down is cause for more anger and will, no doubt, be met with defiance and demonstration.
But rather than rehearse fears and frustrations and the inconsistencies of policy and politics that we have all expressed or heard expressed since March, let me urge you to think of the next four weeks as an extended Advent. If and when the lock-down is lifted in Germany at the end of November, we will be beginning the official Advent season. Advent begins the liturgical calendar each year with four weeks of waiting. We light candles to count down the weeks of waiting for Christmas, the celebration of the coming of the King–God the Son Incarnate, who was born for us in Bethlehem. But during the weeks of Advent we are also meant to be reminded of our waiting for the second coming of the King–the day when Jesus will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Advent is a bittersweet season. The certain joys of the eternal kingdom are not yet ours. We long for the King’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, but we groan under the reality that this time is not yet. We try to prepare our hearts with joyful anticipation of His coming, but we are uncertain when that day will be, and we do not know if we will live to see it. But in the same way the First Advent came in the fullness of God’s timing, and as certain as Christmas arrives on the calendar each year, so the Second Advent will certainly come. Are we ready?
This year, life as we knew it has been interrupted. We dread mask-wearing and the long dismal month ahead of us, and we hope and pray Christmas will not be “cancelled” by this virus. We all long for some sense of normalcy. But may we rather long for the coming of Jesus. May we use this coming month to get into the Advent mood of intentional waiting and watchfulness. May we learn what it means to be prepared and ready for the coming of the King. May we watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation. Indeed, may we pray with anticipation: Come, Lord Jesus!