I really appreciated the following word today from Rod White, one of the pastors of Circle of Hope, which was originally posted over at the Circle of Hope blog:
Counting today, there are eight days left of Advent. Our discipline says that on 12:00:01am on the 25th, Jesus is born. And who cares if he was really born in December 25th, or if early Christ-followers co-opted Saturnalia celebrations for the Lord’s birthday? We’re not reconstituting Jesus’ birth in the laboratory; we are being reconstituted by it! If anything, we’re the laboratory and Advent is the experimental period to see if Jesus is, indeed, going to keep coming to us.
I’ve heard a little bit about Jesus coming when I’ve heard about what has been happening during this season. But I think I’ve noted a lot more people waiting to get out of school so they can rush around and shop and get to Mom and Dad’s for whatever they have cooked up this year. I was at a nice cheerful party and wondered why I wasn’t invited to a couple of others – I’ve been hearing other people ponder parties, too. We collected a boatload of coats for refugees and presents for the children of prisoners, which, I’m sure, made the real St. Nicholas proud. We’re very nice people in a nice community who are full of nice things — and I know that has to do with Jesus.
But I’m wondering if enough of us are learning to welcome the living God into our daily schedule by using this disciplined time of the year to welcome Jesus to the world. I wonder, in general, because there are many reasons not to do any intentional thing bent on getting or improving a relationship with God. I was thinking this morning that a good reason not to meditate, or pray, or set any time apart to spend with God (instead of merely allowing him to hover over us benignly or expecting him to chase us until we need him during our next disaster) would go something like this: “If I pray, my addiction will get brought up – why pray if I am a nicotine addict, or porn addict, or sin addict, etc? Of course, I know that is foolish since Jesus died for me when I was an addict; but if I pray stuff will come up. Since I don’t like feeling what I feel when I am confronted with my issues or with being foolish about how I react to being confronted with my issues, I think I’ll put off praying.” Prayer = Sin + Foolishness. Avoidance follows. Maybe people are learning that formula from the Advent season! Que lastima.
That last part was kind of negative. (And, believe me, I like the “Ho Ho Ho” stuff in almost all its forms, so don’t take on a bunch of negative, here). I’m just trying to be honest, in order to help whoever reads this to start out the last eight days with some hope. I’m afraid that anyone who missed the first part, might either feel like a sinner or a fool and skip the rest, too! But there is plenty of time. Maybe right now, as you read this note you can experience a “time fully come.“ Since you are already came here, why not try meditating on the following sentences that give some meaning to what the season is bringing to us, and see what gets born.
We were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of [children – everyone like a first-born son!]. Because you are [such children], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:3-6