I have made my share of mistakes and failures in my life.* While most, if not all, of these failures and short comings can be attributed to immaturity, the reality is that they happened because I am a sinner.
By now I look back on most of these mistakes simply as gaffes and oversight. I don’t remember the incidents or the details because they really did little harm, as far as I could see. However, there are those few other time where I really did bad and I knew it because I was able to see how much I had disappointed others.
I remember one instance as a junior in high-school in which I was involved in a dishonest act and the truth did not come out until I was sitting in the police station with my parents in front of me. My parents were not mad. Well, they were…they just did not show it. Instead, with nary a word spoken, I could see the disappointment in their eyes. It upset me too because I knew beyond whatever trouble I was in (I wound up being grounded for a month), I had really let my parents down.
I was not one always in trouble, especially in trouble with the law or anything like that. I was well enough behaved child that my parents had a great deal of confidence and trust in me until…
Needless to say, that is one of those moments where I wish that I could have hit a reset button. I have had a few other moments like that in life, as I’m sure we all have. The good news is that we do not need a reset button because God does it for us in Christ.
Yesterday, Sunday, December 2nd, was the beginning of Advent according to the Christian calendar, which reminds us of the coming of Jesus. He comes as the Son of God, the Christ of Israel, to restore creation. Advent is the anticipation of God in Christ making right where there is wrong, establishing justice where there is injustice, and extending the judgment of grace and mercy where there is only vigilantism. Advent is also the anticipation of the second-coming of Christ in which this restoration project will be complete.
One of the selected readings from the Revised Common Lectionary for the first week of Advent is Jeremiah 33:14-16:
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
This is God hitting the reset button. It means we do not need to agonize over the past but celebrate the present and future that God gives us in Christ.
During this Advent season I pray that we can lean into this promise, knowing that Jesus, the Son of God, will come again to fulfill what has begun in his first advent!
* This post is a slightly modified version of an article that is being published by the same title in Connecting, 27 (November 28, 2012), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.