Advent is the season of the church year when we await the coming of Jesus into our world and our lives. We and our children are learning to wait patiently; after all the Jewish people had been waiting, and suffering, for thousands of years for their redeemer to arrive.
To help our children and grandchildren learn to wait patiently we often provide them with Advent calendars which offer up to them a spiritual lesson and, often, a piece of chocolate or other trinket. It helps, but it doesn’t work. “How many more days to Christmas?” remains a popular lament of the little ones.
On to Advent II. The second time Christ came into the world he arrived in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and sojourned with humanity for about three years. Three years. Only three years!? The first time Christ came (The Christ in creation, the Universal or Cosmic Christ.) it was for 13.77 billion years, and still counting. What can one man accomplish in just three years?
Well, personally speaking, I have just published a book that took me three years to begin, to study, to learn, to struggle, to welcome help, to learn more, work more, struggle more and ask for more help. You can now buy the book, God Is Just Love. It is complete; but I have barely begun because the message, which is the whole point, has just begun to work its way into the world, to accomplish its God given purpose.
Exactly! In three years, Jesus, as the message of God, the Just Love of God in human flesh, had barely begun to work His way into the world, to accomplish His God given purpose. (This fact will lead us to next week’s column on Advent III.)
The purpose of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth?
Perfect Love, Unconditional Love, the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, was incorruptible, in the same way that H2O, water, in its chemical form is perfect. But out and about in the world, accomplishing its purpose as a manifestation of Just Love, water can be polluted. It is being contaminated, adulterated, fouled. Fresh, clean water, the very elixir of life, is being wasted and destroyed by the very creatures for whom it means life or death. This is a most powerful metaphor for how the message of the Christ can be corrupted.
The same poisoning has happened, through the centuries, to the message of Jesus. Sometimes it has become so diseased, especially in the lives of institutions, that it is unrecognizable as Christ, even though it still calls itself Christianity.
This is just a column, so I am not going to try to prove my point here. I am simply going to declare that for some time now, with the support and counsel of many others on the same journey, I have been seeking to get to know Jesus again, for the first time. How do you do that? Well, absent the advent of a time machine (That would be Advent V; highly unlikely.) I, we, return to the gospels and read them devotionally, (holy reading, lectio divina—see “God Is Just Love,” chapter 5 for a brief description of this process.) and invite God to reveal to us from the stories of and by Jesus, who the Christ is for me, at this very moment in time. At least for the moment, maybe much longer, you can set aside what you have been taught, especially dogma, and listen to God as Just Love births Jesus of Nazareth in your heart. (That is, of course, Advent III—more on that, as I said, next week!) Remember, sing:
He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today,
He walks with me and talks with me, along life’s narrow way…
You ask me how I know he lives,
He lives within my heart.