“He’s coming! I’m so excited! It was three years ago that we were engaged, then he was sent overseas. I think about him every day. We text and e-mail, but I long to see him face to face and hold him in my arms. Now he’s coming home. We will be married and live happily ever after! I just can’t wait!”
If you can imagine the excited anticipation of that fiancée, then you can understand the joy, excitement, and preparation of Advent. Your Bridegroom is coming! You were betrothed to Jesus Christ when you were baptized and brought to faith in Him alone for your forgiveness and salvation. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
Ever since your engagement, you have been physically separated from your Bridegroom. You think about Him daily and communicate with Him by reading His letters and talking to Him in prayer. In the approaching Christmas season you fondly remember how He came to this world to rescue you from the misery of sin and the bondage to Satan, and to unite you with God forever. During Lent you remember with great pride how He heroically went to battle for you and came out victorious on Easter morning. Then you think about how He ascended to take up His throne in heaven to rule everything in the world for your benefit. Doesn’t it give you a thrill to hear Him say that He went to prepare a place for you in the mansions of heaven, so you can live with Him there forever?
Now we hear, “Behold, the Bridegroom is coming!” (Matthew 25:6). Do you feel the excitement in those words? Your long awaited bridegroom is coming! And He promises, “Behold, I am coming quickly!” We don’t know what day He will come, but it will be soon. When He comes, we will be part of the greatest marriage celebration ever, and truly live happily ever after with Him in Paradise. John sees ahead to that day and says, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:7-8).
Much of preparation goes into a wedding. Jesus has taken care of the most important arrangements. Paul says in Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Christ has cleansed us so that we can be His bride; now let us eagerly prepare for His coming.
Keep a good supply of the oil of the Spirit by continuing in His Word and Sacraments, to keep your faith burning bright (Matthew 25:1-13). Put on the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness with repentant faith (Matthew 22:11-13). And prepare your wedding dress. Did you notice what your wedding dress is made of, according to Revelation 19:8? It is the “righteous acts of the saints.” Note that “it was granted” you to wear them “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Advent reminds us of the excitement to which we look forward. Our Bridegroom is coming! May we put as much energy and excitement into preparing for our wedding day as a bride does for hers.
David Reim is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Vernon, British Columbia.