The Eve of Advent

Advent is a time in which we share in the yearning of all those who, in their suffering and struggle, long for redemption and liberation, for unity, for peace, for a golden age – for a manifestation of God’s love and unity, for a breaking in of his justice among the nations.

Today we are convinced that there still is One who will create peace and social justice for everyone. We expect him and thus long with a humble spirit that his rulership is recognized in every country. When this happens, he will turn bloody weapons into tools for work [Isa. 2:4], and we shall become true brothers and sisters. This is what we want to think of when we approach the season of Jesus’ birth.

However, like the prophets of old, we also need to feel the outrageous injustice that exists within society today and how heavy a burden this is. Injustice ought to stir our hearts; the lack of peace in a world bristling with weapons should haunt us. Disunity exists not only among nations, but also in the midst of every nation. There are far too many unjust governments today. A grave evil results when all our honest labor is supplanted by factories and modern technology. The workers are like living corpses who have no influence on the shaping of the economy, even though it is from their hands that all the things come which are enjoyed and distributed and sold.

Dissensions between classes, races, and ethnic groups continue to erupt, and in large cities and industrial centers violence is flooding the streets – a veritable civil war, a war between brothers. Lovelessness is so great today that on the one side people have their nice homes and secure livelihoods, while on the other side parents abandon their children at the welfare office. Some live so well while millions are on the way to perpetual poverty. Let us remember what Jesus said about the end of the age: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most people will grow cold, and then the end will come [Matt. 24:12].

Advent is a time when we await God’s intervention in the need of the present day, as he intervened then in Jesus’ birth. We long for the highest power to rescue this unhappy, torn humanity that knows so little community. Now is the time to ask God for a radical change in all things, even if this means we must go through judgment.

Adapted from “The Eve of Advent” by Eberhard Arnold, published in When the Time Was Fulfilled (Walden, NY: Plough, 2011), 1–3. The original from November 26, 1932 can be read in our digital archive.

Article edited for length and clarity.