Monday, December 6, 2010

“Warning: Christmas is Coming”

 Advent is an expedition. It is preparing for Christ, a time to de-cluttering our lives, and make room in our souls for something new. It is a time we focus on the romantic story of a child, the Messiah, born in a stable. Advent is filled with awe, wonder, tradition, and expectations. During the time of Advent, begins a debate or division between the Happy Holidays people and the Merry Christmas people. (Note: That is another topic for another article, but my belief in Christ is not offended if someone tells me Happy Holidays, although I’m a Merry Christmas guy.)

Advent is the time to get out of our heads and let go of our notions about "What Jesus Would Do?" in this great debate and look at what Jesus is doing. If we do not, we will simply miss the true essences of Advent. Advent is the time to let go of those preconceptions of who the Messiah should be and enter the deep dark cold of winter. It is also time we should focus on exactly who Christ was. Advent is the beginning of the church year because we start all over. We leave our scripts of every thing we know; the pain of our past mistakes, the joys and accomplishments of last year, and begin the new journey toward Bethlehem. Like Mary and Joseph, we stop thinking about some ideal life and look instead at where we are.

• No, I didn't expect to be unmarried and pregnant.

• No, I didn't expect to be have all those people whisper behind my back.

• But here I am, God's servant; show me the way.

Like Mary and Joseph, now is the time to leave the familiar country of the old and begin the journey into the dark of newness. We leave our assumptions behind; we leave behind the ways we have put God in a box. We look for God in new ways - not the idea of God, but the experience of God. Remember what Jesus says to John's disciples: "Go and tell John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight; the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed; the deaf hear; the dead are raised; and the poor have good news brought to them."

In other words: Wake UP. Instead of thinking about our idea of the perfect Messiah, look and see what the Messiah is doing all around you and in your life. Stop thinking of God outside yourself - outside your life; look for the Divine Presence right where you are.

One day we must realize that Jesus is not a concept or a theory to be confirmed or disproved during Christmas. Jesus is the bringer of life -abundant life - eternal life - and He is bringing life to us right now. So often we think of Christmas as a religious history lesson. We are interested in how the world worked 2000 years ago. What exactly was the census, and what were the marriage customs? And who were the magi? Where their really cows at there?

All of that is interesting, but none of it gets to the real point which is: Do you experience God being born in your life? Do you recall how God has answered your prayers? Have you forgotten the excitement of Christmas from your childhood? The birth of Christ is now and here. Jesus is always being born and because of that people we know - people like us - are being transformed.

That's how they know Jesus is the One. And that's how we know Christ is the Messiah. Advent is the stirring of the divine in our life and in our world. Advent is the time for us to leave our safe houses and experience that stirring first hand. Like Mary and Joseph we too begin a journey that can change or life forever, if we dare.

See ya in church, Merry Christmas, and until then take care of yourself and one another.

Hope, Peace, & Joy,


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