My first take on today’s reading was, “How the HECK does this fit into Advent?” It isn’t exactly a Scripture that screams baby Jesus in the manger…
A second read, a third read, and I got it. It is that one little phrase:
the day of Christ Jesus
I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel. God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
9 This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.
Philippians 1:3-11 [CEB]
Advent is a time of anticipation in our celebration of the Christ Child. But it is also a longing look ahead — to the return of Christ, when earthly pursuits will cease and the agenda will be set by Christ the King. That’s a bit of a mind-shift from the state of “gimme-gimme” and “buy-buy-buy” that consumes us. It’s a day when our “to do” lists become meaningless.
These verses in Philippians tell us “in the mean time” there are things we need to do. If we follow Paul’s example, we will be very busy! His letter to the church in Philippi is full of action in the spiritual realm.
I remembered something else as I studied this letter. Paul was in prison when he wrote to this fledgling church. He was awaiting trial and eventual execution. He was destitute without the support of the churches. And the one in Philippi provided emotional and financial support. Despite his discouraging circumstances, he poured himself as an ambassador and encourager for Christ.
There are times in a period of waiting, longing, and even mourning, that it is hard to persevere. The words of love Paul poured out to the Philippians were certainly as a result of the love he had received. What goes around, comes around… for we are all poor, wayfaring strangers. Waiting… waiting… waiting… for the day Christ comes or we go home.