The Second Advent
Open Your Bible
Acts 1:7-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Revelation 19:6-16
BY Beth Joseph
Section 4: Waiting for the Light
This story didn’t begin with a baby in a manger, and it doesn’t end there either. Light isn’t diminished when we put away the Christmas tree and blow out the last Advent candle. Christmas Day is a celebration of the start of Jesus Christ’s life on earth, His ministry, death, and resurrection, and the new life He invites us to enjoy. His work in driving out darkness and making all things new is both already accomplished on the cross and still ongoing.
Until Jesus Christ returns, we share in His work as people of the light, eagerly awaiting that promised day.
While we just finished celebrating the Advent season a few days ago, today’s reading reminds us that we are people waiting between two advents—the advent of Jesus’s miraculous birth and the advent of His promised return one day.
Historically, the celebration of the Advent season was more than just a time of rejoicing over Jesus’s birth. Advent, in its earliest days, was a season of quiet examination and repentance. It was a time to slow down, spend time in prayer and fasting, and prepare your heart for the second coming of Christ. Centuries ago, Advent was also the time when believers would ready themselves for baptism. Not until later centuries did the Church also start primarily celebrating Jesus’s birth during the Advent season.
Today, our readings draw our attention to this second advent. In Acts 1, we find Jesus giving His disciples some final instructions before His ascension. His instructions come with a promise that the Holy Spirit will equip them for the work ahead (Acts 1:8). After His ascent, the disciples are told that one day Jesus will return “in the same way that you have seen him going into heaven” (v.11).
It is interesting to reflect on the second coming of Christ and also read Acts 1:8 on the same day. Acts 1:8 shows us that one way we prepare our hearts for His return is spreading the news of His future return in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. And because we do not know the timing of His return, we eagerly share the joy of the first advent and tell others of His second still to come for as long as we wait.
Today’s reading also is an encouragement to our often weary souls. Remembering that one day “we will always be with the Lord” should bring true joy and hope (1Thessalonians 4:17). No more separation from our God—what a thing to look forward to! Don’t forget this joyous news as you pack away your holiday decorations. As we wait for the second advent, let’s continue to celebrate the birth of our Savior and intentionally prepare our hearts for His second coming year round.