This being the season of Advent; I think it’s worth taking a moment to identify what the word “Advent” means. The word carries the following meanings: the arrival of, the coming of, the emergence of. The question is, “of what?” What needed to arrive? What needed to emerge? What needed to come? The easy answer is Jesus. But the deeper answer is, and always has been, Emmanuel – God with us!
Let’s begin with “God with us”. With us! Who does that include? Does it include only those that understand “God with us” the way I do? Was it a human experience? Was it a creation-level experience? Was the coming of Jesus a culmination of all that had been hoped, longed and waited for? Today, some would contend that Jesus obviously wasn’t all that we longed for because war, violence, oppression, prejudice and racism continued. This brings me to the Advent wreath and the candles that surround the wreath. Hope, peace, joy and love. Have you noticed, that with most Advent wreaths, the red candle in the middle that represents Jesus is always the biggest and most ornate one? We always seem to want to make the Jesus candle the biggest candle. I, for one, don’t like that.
I like my Jesus candle to be little – my size. Human size. I think the One who came to be with us, came in the simplest of forms, the most beautiful spirit, and lived the big ideals.
He lived the hope, showing us that we, too, could live the hope. But, we don’t have too. He lived the peace, showing us that we, too, could live that peace. But, we don’t have too. He lived the joy, revealing that we, too, could live the joy. But, we don’t have too. And He lived love… and so you get the idea. But, we don’t have too. Herein lies the beautiful rub. We don’t have too, but we can!
Jesus, “God with us”, showed us that it is possible. We can experience “God with us”. How does the simple, yet unbelievably complex God, invite us again to experience His continued incarnational experience with us? I am attempting to put into words a great mystery full of the love of God, the patience of God, the desires of God – that all would be one; that the longings of all the prophets of old could be realized in each one of us. So we, too, discover God is with us.
The following may seem like a strange aside, but I have heard a lot of Christians say, “We invite Jesus into our hearts and then God is with us.” I actually find this idea kinda funny. Jesus was a man. And if we believe in the incarnation and the resurrection, then Jesus is still a man, who dwells with God. Therefore, He wouldn’t fit inside our hearts. He would be too big. But the spirit of the One who dwelt in Christ, since Christ, dwells in us. I wonder what that awareness, what nurturing that conscious contact would cause? I know in my life, this growing awareness has caused me to stop separating things. Has caused me not to cease and decist (one of my favourite previous past times) which was to decide who was right and who was wrong. To have the gall to decide what God thinks about the topics of this time I find myself living in.
As I become more aware and more conscious of “God with me” – Emmanuel – what I am discovering with new eyes, and re-newing eyes, is that God is with everybody else, too. Who am I to judge the work of God in another? Other than this very simple judgement: God is with every other. He is with everyone.
So my prayer this Advent is that I would see. That I would see the hope, peace, joy and love in others. And I also pray that others would also see the hope, peace, joy and love in me. For this is what we were waiting for.
P.S. I hope that this season is full of wonder for you. And perhaps if you haven’t been exposed to it yet, I’d encourage you to check out the Advent Conspiracy (www.adventconspiracy.org). I have a hunch that Jesus would like to turn our every Christmas upside down.