The Three Comings of Christ – An Advent Meditation

Girl holding a candle representing the anticipated light of Christ at advent

When Christmas Spills Into Advent

For a long time, I thought that advent was kind of pointless. Like hanging on to VHS tapes long after the rise of Netflix. Christ has already come, 2,000 years ago, so why do we pretend like he isn’t here?
Then I learnt about the three comings of Christ.

Christ has come, Christ is here, Christ is coming again.

In our highly consumerist culture, Christmas has tumbled into advent; consuming this contemplative time with Christmas music, tons of food and gingerbread latte’s.

We forget that advent is one of the two great fasting times of the Christian calendar. It is a time of great anticipation. A time of great promise.

I grew up in a highly evangelical culture, where every day is Easter. There was no space for doubt, no space for waiting, no space for weakness. 

We lived in the resurrection. More than conquerors in Christ. Then life kicked in and we had no words for the dark night of the soul. No language for doubt.

The liturgical year gives voice to the multitude of experiences that we face. It has language and space for ecstatic joy, deep sorrow, shining hope, and the pain of loss.

Thus, when Christmas tumbles into advent we are left again with no voice for that anticipation and waiting that we all must bear as followers of Christ.

Let us look at the three comings of Christ

Christ has come – the first coming of Christ

Just over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was born.

As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Messiah promised to Israel.

Many years before Jesus’s birth, the Jewish people were exiled from their land; taken by the Babylonians.

Years later when the Babylonians were defeated by the Persians they could go home.

At the time of Jesus’s birth, the Jews were then living in a comparative exile. Although they lived in the land, they were being ruled over by the Romans.

They longed for the Messiah promised in the scriptures who would free them from their oppressors.

This is the anticipation into which Christ was born.

Even though we know that Christ's coming did not look like what was anticipated, we acknowledge the freedom that Christ brings

During the time of advent, we place our feet in their shoes.

We think of all those who live in oppression. Who are waiting for a time when they will be free.

We think of all those who are suffering, waiting for a time when their sufferings will cease.

We also experience great hope, because we know that he came.

Christ is here – the second coming of Christ

The second coming of Christ is a deeply personal one.

We celebrate the moment that Christ came to dwell within us.

The time when Christ entered our hearts.

We think of others who have yet to feel the joy of knowing Christ.

We think not just of Christ as personal for us but acknowledge Christ within the whole body of the Church.

Christ is moving within our midst.

Christ died. Christ rose from the dead. And he lives in us.

Christ is coming again – the third coming of Christ

The third coming of Christ is the one we have yet to experience.

Let’s face it. The world is pretty messed up.

We turn on our news and see wars and famines, we are surrounded by death and destruction.

Even without the news, we acknowledge that the line between good and evil is one that exists within our very hearts.

Something in our world is fundamentally broken.

Scripture promises us that one day God will sort it all out.

It promises that one day nation will not make war with another nation.

It promises that one day every tear will be wiped from every eye.

It promises that death will be no more.

It promises that Christ will come again, and everything will be put right.


When Christmas spills into advent, it is easy for us to see advent only as the anticipation of the first coming of Christ; the baby Jesus.

We can forget about the very real anticipation of a broken world being made whole again.

At the winter solstice, the ancient people would gather on that shortest day of the year in the hopes that the days would not continue to get shorter.

They would hope that the sun would come back, rather than continue to show itself less and less, eventually leaving them in a perpetual darkness.

Equally, at advent, we acknowledge that the darkness is there. Something is wrong. Something is broken.

Yet we have hope.

We know that the light of the world has come, and shines in the darkness.

We know that the light of the world lives within us, and we ourselves are light bearers in a dark place.

We know that the light of the world will come again and that darkness will be banished.

We know that love wins.

The concept for this post comes from Joan Chittister’s amazing book ‘The liturgical Year’*, which I highly recommend.
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* Please note that this is an affiliate link. I receive a small amount for the price of the book if you buy it.


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