Today is the First Sunday of Advent, our Four Sunday countdown to Christmas. Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” And historically the Church has celebrated all of the ways God has come to save His people, culminating in His great coming at Bethlehem, but also looking in hope to His Final Coming at the end to raise the dead at the final judgement and put all things right.
During these Sundays of Advent at Christ Church we use the Definition of Chalcedon as our Creed, which underlines the nature of Christ, that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, truly God and truly man, and that union of those two natures was utterly unique. That union did not blend or mix those two natures but preserves both of them in the one person of Jesus.
This union of God and man in Jesus underlines what we are celebrating in Advent. The chasm between Creator and creature is an infinite chasm. Man cannot cross it. Nothing in all of creation can leap from some finite point and arrive at infinite. Infinite, by definition, doesn’t ever really arrive. And this is why if there is to be a bridge between God and man, it must come from the other side. The finite cannot reach the infinite, but the infinite can reach the finite. And this is what God has done in Jesus Christ.
This is the fundamental difference between Christianity and all other world religions. All the other religions, including secular humanism, teach that in some measure man can make progress across the infinite chasm to God and perfection. And this is why all the other religions of the world ultimately end in despair. They always begin with lies about man’s potential for progress, and then when the truth begins to dawn that their progress is like Pooh and Piglet walking in circles in the snow, the only thing left is despair.
But Christianity is the only religion that has the audacity to tell the truth from the beginning: the truth that we are lost in our sins, that we are rebels, that our only potential in ourselves is darkness and death, and we couldn’t make any progress across the chasm to God even if we wanted to. But the good news of Advent and Christmas and the whole Bible is that God has crossed the chasm to us. He has come for us. This is what we call grace, and this is the basis for all Christian hope. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. In all our darkness and hardship and struggle, He comes, He surely comes. And He will come again.