We are currently in the period of the church calendar known as Advent (this year, beginning on 2nd December and ending on 24th December). It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It has always struck me as quite strange that we anticipate eagerly something that has already happened. The juxtaposition of time frames in that season appeals to the language teacher in me!

The language teacher in me knows that the word ‘Advent’ is from the Latin adventus, which is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, therefore, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming. I find this duality deeply interesting.

Every Sunday when we take Communion, we look back at the work Christ has done on the Cross to purchase our salvation. We also, every time we remember, look forward to His second coming: “In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:25-26) It seems that this combination of looking back (remembering) and looking forward (anticipating) is present more often than we may think!

Today’s musical input is coming from Phil Wickham, whose album ‘Heaven and Earth’ is one of the best examples I know of both remembering and anticipating (he starts the album with ‘Eden’, looking back at how it all started and ends with ‘Heaven Song’, a celebration of all that heaven is.)

‘In Your City‘ is a song that anticipates our arrival in heaven:
“Oh the glorious day when we arrive
And Heaven’s gates are opened wide
All our fear and pain will fade away
When we see You face to face

You will reign in brilliant light
Forever glorified In Your city
We, Your daughters and Your sons,
Will see the kingdom come
In Your city
My city
This is Your city
My city.” (Phil Wickham, ‘In Your City’)

Phil Wickham, ‘In Your City’