What Are We Waiting For?

My article on Advent, “What Are We Waiting For?” has been published by Christian Reflection, an online journal published by Baylor University. The article is a study of the Advent texts for Advent celebration in 2010.

Below is the introduction to my article:

Of all the prophets of the Old Testament, none has influenced the Christian understanding of the life and ministry of Christ more than Isaiah. The writers of the New Testament and the early Christians used Isaiah’s oracles to shed light on the birth of Christ, his character and person, his ministry, and his suffering and death.

Many passages from the book of Isaiah have become firmly established in Christian imagination to form a basic understanding of the gospel message. Isaiah proclaims the coming of one who will call the people to prepare the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3). He describes the mission of one who will proclaim the good news to the poor (61:1). He proclaims the coming of a kingdom where people will forge their swords into plowshares (2:4), where the wolf will dwell with the lamb (11:6). Isaiah also speaks of the suffering of the Servant who will be despised and rejected by many (53:3), but through whom the will of the Lord will prosper (53:10).

During the Advent season, Isaiah speaks again and his oracles about the promised Savior give a clear indication that Advent had its origin in the hopes and hearts of people longing for God. As people of faith meditate on Isaiah’s words and his vision of the Messianic age, they will realize that Advent finds its completion when it reaches the hearts of those who are waiting for God’s coming in the person of his Son.

Isaiah speaks about the “mountain of the Lord’s house” (2:1-5), the peaceful kingdom (11:1-10), the desert highway that is a “Holy Way” (35:1-10), and the child whose name is Immanuel, “God with us” (7:10-16). Isaiah’s words describe the coming of the new son of David and the establishment of the reign of God. The use of Isaiah’s oracles in the Advent liturgy helps Christians prepare their hearts for the advent of Christ.

You can download the article in a PDF format free of charge here.

The whole Fall issue of Christian Reflection deals with Advent Ethics and is available free online in a PDF format here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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