Growing up in Appleton, Wisconsin, I looked forward each year to the way College Avenue was transformed each holiday season, with 50 foot angels blowing their trumpets across all four corners of all the downtown intersections. It became known as “The Avenue of the Angels” and people from all over the state would come to town just to see the spectacle. Standing on the campus of Lawrence University and looking west down College Avenue, I see a shimmering, golden tunnel formed by the tinsel angels, a magical pathway of lights and garlands leading us all to Christmas.
As I continue walking, retracing my boyhood steps toward the downtown shops displaying lighted candles and snowmen, I wonder if Jesus will make his triumphal way down a street like this at his final coming. And if he does, how will I feel as I stand here along the curb? Will I be happy, or worried, or wishing I had just a bit more time to get ready? I hate the idea of having unfinished business left forever undone: apologies never spoken, prayers never offered, thank you’s never delivered.
Nearing the bottom of the Avenue, where the old Viking Theatre used to be, I turn around. In the distance I see the cupola of Lawrence University and the other buildings of Appleton’s skyline. They stand against a great white bank of clouds that glow from underneath. Jesus’ words come to mind: “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Maybe he’ll come on some mighty clouds like those just above the Aid Association for Lutherans building.
But as I continue walking the Avenue, I change my mind. I think the Lord will certainly come right down The Avenue of Angels, the curbs of my beloved city lined with crowds shouting and clapping and dancing for joy. My grandparents, my son, and all my deceased family and friends will finally be at my side again. And we will welcome him. And it will once again be Christmas, but this time forever.
This, then, is the hope of our Advent: that the Lord we worship is coming again to show us that life will have the last word, that love always triumphs, that miracles still happen—even in the cold of December, along a brightly lit corridor of candles, snowmen and tinsel angels.
Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus,