Advent Has New Meaning in 2020

Advent has taken on new meaning this year, as the world waits in hope and anticipation for a vaccine that will return us to normal. The whole Earth is participating in Advent’s ritual of waiting in hope. We wait for the coming or advent of Christ. This coming will not be like his first when He came in humility with the birth announcement “A Saviour is born!”. It will be a coming of a different sort. He will come as the omnipotent LORD here to put all things right and establish his reign of justice and peace.

While the world awaits a ‘return to normal’  scriptures tell us that no vaccine can return us to ‘normal’. Even if the pandemic suddenly vanished the world would be a sick one plagued by selfishness and sin. Scripture  informs us that God has grander plans. God’s plan is to restore mankind and indeed the whole Earth to before the original plague of sin.

This Advent as we await the vaccine we are told that vaccines do not save us. We are told instead that it is vaccinations that will save us. Not until people choose to be vaccinated, not until they submit to vaccination, will the benefits be truly experienced. There is a personal element that needs to be activated to claim the healing.

The waiting in hope and the personal acceptance of the vaccine are ready parallels to the saving and restoring work of Christ, that we long for. We do not hope as if salvation were not just over the horizon. We hope in certainty resting on the utter faithfulness of our faithful God.

In the meantime, just like during the pandemic, there are mitigating efforts we ought to be engaged in. We ought to be heralds of Jesus soon coming. The Church ought to be a mitigating force in the world rescuing people from ‘the worst of the curse’. Just as wearing masks, social distancing, and hand washing mitigate the pandemics effects so our efforts in evangelism and social justice mitigate the toll of sin on our world.

It is a shameful thing when those who name Christ as Lord demand the world’s idea of freedom rather than to embrace the high calling to servant leadership. Philippians 2 tells us Jesus set aside his rights in order to serve and save us. Even if we have freedom to exert (I do not concede this) Paul in Romans 14 admonishes those who feel like this to be careful not to use their freedom to cause others to stumble. Christians demanding rights at others’ expense are not closely following their Lord. Such practises are harmful and ought to be rethought.

So let us fix our eyes on a vaccine but more importantly on the coming Reign of Christ, and let us occupy the time in mitigating activities, and as the Hypocratic Oath expresses “First of all, Do no harm!”

“Patience Pandemic”


I get a very real sense that we are experiencing a ‘patience pandemic’, or better said ‘an impatience pandemic. People are wearying with the covid restrictions on their lives. We long to return to “normal” and we seem on the verge of acting on this impulse, to the harm of ourselves and others. Could there be anything more counter to gospel living than that?

I find myself asking for patience and thinking a lot about it these days. I often think of myself as an impatient person. I hate to wait in line. I chaff while I wait. Then it occurred to me that my patience threshold is much like my pain threshold. A paper cut will cause me to fuss and fume. A slight bump on my head will cause me to howl and complain. Small pains cause inordinate responses, but the larger ones are a different story! I have plugged uncomplainingly through some serious injury and pain. I can be long suffering through years of difficult service in challenging circumstances. I am capable of long-term patience while my short-term patience is soon to disappear.

Pandemic patience calls me to the latter persevering kind. This pandemic is more than an annoyance, and so my impatient temper at annoyance is totally inappropriate. God is calling me to a steadfastness rather than a temporary restraint. I must not waver if I am to follow Jesus by loving my neighbour! Now more than ever I need the Fruit of the Spirit, especially of love, patience, and long suffering.

Covid provides me an opportunity to develop just such fruit. In doing so I will become more like Jesus! This is an occasion for God to refine me. If I treat it as an annoyance and chafe in frustration, I will miss a glorious chance! This time calls for another kind of patience; another level of patience all together.

This is no ‘paper cut’ or ‘slight head bump’ this is an opportunity like I have never had before. Fruit of the Spirit cannot be forced but it does naturally, or better supernaturally, occur when I sink my roots deeply into God and his Word. It seems this is an opportunity to resist being conformed by circumstances but instead to be transformed as God renews my mind and attitude.

Joseph testimony rings true that what was intended for evil purpose God intends for our good, and his glory. I want to cooperate in that! How about you?