Beginnings and endings. Transitions. No matter what our situation in life, we daily, weekly, and yearly endure countless beginnings and endings, countless transitions. Some are minor; some are major. Some are sad or painful; some are joyous or hopeful. In all, nothing seems to last. For those of younger years, life appears to be characterized far more by beginnings than endings; for those of older years, life appears to be characterized far more by endings than beginnings. Yet for all, between our first beginning and our last ending, transition seems the very stuff of life, until we finally die.
Deep, deep, deep in the flesh and blood of our existence, of all our beginnings and endings, God – the One who is, who was, and who is to come – came to us in Jesus. He came to us in Jesus to endure and to redeem all that “is, was, and is to come” in our life – all our transitions, and most especially our first beginning and last ending. God is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Beginning without ending. He is the Ending without beginning. He rules over the world’s beginning and ending, over our beginning and ending. In God, all our beginnings and endings find ever-creating, ever-sustaining, and ever-redeeming goodness and love, without variation, without change, without transition. Where the transitions of life are decidedly mixed for us, where fragility and impermanence wear upon us, God is – good, loving, faithful, sovereign. In Jesus, God takes upon himself what we break down, and what breaks us down. In Jesus, God perfects what otherwise would ruin and defeat us.
John broadcast this good news in what we call the Book of Revelation. It is a strange, challenging, and unsettling document, filled with fantastical images, cataclysmic events, and dire warnings. Yet it is also a comforting document, for the thematic substrate throughout is this stupendous news of God’s good, faithful, and sovereign love for us in Jesus, both in and beyond this world.
May we – gladly receiving this good news – begin, journey, and end this Advent with God’s advent to us in Jesus. His humble birth is the true beginning of God’s ending of our story; and God’s end to our story spells the Alpha and Omega of his enduring love, which is our new beginning, world without end.