Some Thoughts on Advent (that sound like thoughts on Good Friday)

Today is the first Sunday of Advent—the season of anticipation... the season in which we wait upon the coming king, our liberator, the one who will free us not only (and sometimes not at all) from the enemies from whom we want to be freed, but from the enemies which we ourselves have come to love... the enemies from whom we don't know we need freedom.

This is the season of the unexpected...

This is the season in which we wait for a king and a liberator, and yet are invited to see our liberation in a child born in poverty. This is the season in which we wait for life and yet are invited to look for it in death. This is the season in which we wait for our future by waiting for the future of a crucified man without a future.

This is the season where all our hopes, all our visions, all our expectations of what the world could and should be are faced by the threat of what the world actually is. And this is the season where God enters not into the world as it should be but into the world as it is... God meets us here and we are disappointed because we find that the one who is supposed to rescue us from this pit is sitting here in it with us. What will we do now...our rescuer is himself defeated by our fate?

This is the season in which we realize that we are not merely the victims of sin, but its perpetrators. For in our disappointment—in the crisis of seeing the world as it should be swallowed up by the world as it is—we fell for death. We fear the coming of the one whose life is stronger than death because we ourselves are aligned with death as its victims and as its servants. We know that God-with-us means our undoing. We see God's coming and we know that it must also mean God's wrath.

But this is the season where wrath takes us by surprise by revealing itself as love.

In our disappointment, our savior whispers, "you are not alone, I am here," and we are reminded of who it is that joins us here...

Martin Luther heard this whispered reminder. He wrote,
"Christ is God and man in one person. He has neither sinned nor died, and is not condemned, and he cannot sin, die, or be condemned; his righteousness, life, and salvation are unconquerable, eternal, omnipotent. By the wedding ring of faith he shares in the sins, death, and pains of hell which are his bride's. As a matter of fact, he makes them his own and acts as if they were his own and as if he himself had sinned; he suffered, died, and descended into hell that he might overcome them all. Now since it was such a one who did all this, and death and hell could not swallow him up, these were necessarily swallowed up by him in a mighty duel; for his righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, his life stronger than death, his salvation more invincible than hell."(Three Treatises 286-287).  
This is the one whose future we anticipate: the one whose life is stronger than death. And by waiting for his future (the future of the crucified) we wait for our future (we wait for resurrection).  For our judge is judged with us and for us. The one who cannot sin assumes sin. The one who has died as our fellow victim, our companion in abandonment, joins us in our waiting and cries with us, "May your word to me be fulfilled" (Luke 1:38).