The liturgically astute (read: worship nerds in mainline, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions) know that Advent is the beginning of the liturgical calendar. The year ends with Christ the King Sunday the week before. Truth be told, Advent signals much more than an annual turn.
Advent reveals the end of all things and a whole new world.
Advent is an apocalyptic time. No, not The Walking Dead, The Road, The Day After Tomorrow, or The Day the Earth Stood Still kind of apocalypse. The origins of the words apocalypse come from the Greek ἀποκάλυψις, or apocalypsis, a word that means something like revealing or unveiling. Theologically, Advent is about the unveiling of God's incarnation in Jesus. Advent is about the revealing of God's free grace in and through the Messiah of Israel.
This revelation, though, is not impotent, for the advent of the Lord also signals the end of the old world. It is not cataclysmic in the way that movies portray, but the apocalypse of advent is a radical departure from the old world. The injustice bred by sin no longer will rule, but rather God's final conquering of sin breeds a whole new world built upon justice and peace.
Of course, we know all too well that the vestiges of sin remain in our own lives. Yet, the return of Advent is the constant reminder that God has promised to reconcile all things through Jesus Christ. God is actively working in these apocalyptic times, bringing about the Kingdom of God and putting to rest the powers of prejudice and discrimination, of oppression and death. The Advent apocalypse is ultimately about light and life - the incarnate and resurrected life of Jesus, the restored life of humanity, and the perfected life of all creation.
We are the people who lived in a deep darkness and yet have seen a great light in Jesus. Each Advent, this light reminds us that God has not abandoned us, but is at work in and through us for the redemption of all creation. Advent signals the end of all things and a whole new world, restored to abundant life.
Now that's something worth unveiling.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.