By Joell Haugan
So here’s a question that nobody is asking. “Is the Advent an example of adventitiousness”?
Ya, nobody, ever, has asked this.
But this word, which has the root “advent” actually brings some light and some questions to the story of the Advent, or coming, of God in flesh: Jesus Christ. “Adventitious” means “coming from without” or “coming about from a unknown or unexpected cause” or even “from an accidental cause.”
Insight #1 – Jesus’ coming is from “without.” OK, yes, God is everywhere and the God-Man Jesus created everything…but in the Advent we see God entering the sphere of humanity in a very different way. As the creator becoming the same as the created. In this sense, the Advent is adventitious.
Insight #2 – Indeed, there is a “unexpected” element to the Advent of the “long expected” Messiah. Sages and prophets had signalled the imminent coming of the Messiah yet, there is an amazing element of surprise when He actually shows up…and, for sure, shows up in the way He did. In a manger. In a smaller town. To common parents. To poverty. To the worship of shepherds. This was indeed the most unexpected expected event.
Question #1 – So is the birth of Christ a cosmic accident? There have been those that have surmised that the virginal conception (aka the virgin birth, but the birth isn’t the virginal part. It’s the conception….well, you get the idea) was actually legitimate, but that it was a fluke of nature. Like the apparent spontaneous pregnancies reported in sharks (it’s true, look it up). This would change the story to the the wonderful name of the “adventitious conception” Ya, that doesn’t roll off the tongue. But, we know that this amazing historical happenstance was anything but an accident. It was designed and brought about by God Himself in the most awe-inspiring way. The most intelligently designed event in history.
Question # 2 – So what? Ah, the classic question that every sermon should answer. So, this Child is God. What does this mean to us today? Well, it means the world. Because in Christ we have the coming of God in flesh to ultimately take our place. No, Jesus isn’t going to replace you in your job at Walmart or Sears (oh, skip that last one). He came to replace us in the whole department of “taking our sin and its consequences.” Human sinfulness cannot stand in the presence of Holy God, but Holy God can stand in our place so that our lives can be exchanged for His–through His life, death and resurrection. That’s kind of a big deal. That’s what this Advent deal is all about.
So, this Advent season, take time to reflect on the adventitiousness of the Advent. OK. You can skip the adventitiousness part….but reflect you must! 🙂
PS. Charles Wesley did some of this reflecting for us:
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.