Third Saturday of Advent: So We Resist

By Leah Kirkland

Advent Devotional | December 17, 2022

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.

—1 Peter 5:8-9 (Read 1 Peter 5)

Do you hear that?” Silence. “Wait, hold on, let me see something…” The whoosh of the toilet flushing, and then the dreaded blub blub blub. “It’s coming out of the drain pipe!” 

Within the first week after closing on our new house, my husband and I started noticing a variety of problems that didn’t make the inspection report. One of the first was when we realized that use of the basement bathroom caused water to come up from the drain in the basement. We don’t know much about plumbing—but we know that is not the direction that drains are supposed to work. 

Days and weeks passed, and new problems arose. Electrical wiring needed to be redone. Leaky sinks needed to be sealed. Door hinges needed to be re-affixed to their frames, and handrails and blinds and rods and shelves needed to be installed. 

As an eager and naïve first-time homeowner, I was not prepared for this amount of work. It felt like nothing was quite as it ought to be.

The season of Advent, more so than any other season in the church calendar, reflects this struggle. 

Advent is typically thought of simply as the season leading up to Christmas. However, this view misses the eschatalogical richness that Advent has to offer.

Advent is the beginning of the end. Advent is when we watch and wait for the second coming of Christ, who will arrive “in glory to judge the living and the dead” and will consummate the kingdom of God. 

Fleming Rutledge describes it this way: “In a very deep sense, the entire Christian life in this world is lived in Advent, between the first and second comings of the Lord, in the midst of the tension between things the way they are and things the way they ought to be.”

Sometimes we feel like we come close to achieving the “ought to be.”

After a long day of laying insulation in our attic, we were almost done, and the feeling of accomplishment was starting to swell inside of us. Just a few more square feet, and one more thing will be as it ought to be. 

But then—thud, crack. My uncle, who had graciously offered to help us, stepped on a board that fell and broke through the drywall of our ceiling—right above the bed in our bedroom. It was a jarring reminder that we are still in the “not yet.” 

Living requires that we deal with things like brokenness, pain, suffering, disappointment, corruption, and death on a regular basis. When facing these, is there anything that we can even do? 

When it seems like entropy, destruction, and decay always win the day, do I give my house over and allow these to reign? 

Of course not.

As Peter reminds us, we are to resist these powers of evil and sin. We are to “be watchful.”

As we wait and watch for the promised second coming of Christ, we also must watch out for the Enemy. Advent reminds us that we play a crucial role in this cosmic conflict between good and evil, and evil wishes to exploit us for its gain and turn us against the One who loves us. 

We may not want to reckon with these morbid things during our merry and bright holiday season, but Advent invites and challenges us to take them seriously.

So, in faith, we resist. And it must be in faith. 

There is nothing I can humanly do about the problem of evil. I cannot defeat the Enemy. Just as no amount of repair or cautious measures can be a guaranteed prevention against the next leaky faucet, evil and entropy are the reality of this present age. 

The only guarantee is the intervention of God—once already, from Christmas to the cross, and again, but not yet. With the coming of Jesus Christ, the Enemy received a mortal wound, marking the beginning of the end. And the end of the end is coming.

If we allow this story to be our story this Advent season, then the hardship of holding in tension the way things are and the way they ought to be becomes our hope. 

So I’ll fix the hole in the ceiling knowing there is likely something else around the corner, knowing my house still isn’t perfect, knowing the end of the work is still a long way off. However, this season gives me hope that it won’t always be this way. 

I can see through and beyond the disrepair to a lovely home. In fact, there’s a sense in which that lovely home is already here—I’m living in it now as I create meals, foster a variety of houseplants, and shelter under blankets for movie nights. 

This Advent, let us dwell in the story of our God who has fought and is still fighting to welcome us home. 

—Leah Kirkland serves as CCO campus ministry staff at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh through a partnership with Church of the Ascension.