ADVENT - A PRESENCE IN THE WORLD
A PRESENCE IN THE WORLD
By: Bishop Wayne Boosahda
“It can only be that God begins in a small way at one single place in the world. There must be a place in the world – visible, tangible – where the salvation of the world can begin; that is, where the world becomes what it is supposed to be according to God’s plan. Beginning at that place, the new thing can spread abroad, but not through persuasion, not through indoctrination, not through violence. Everyone must have the opportunity to ‘come and see’. All must have a chance to behold and test this new thing. Then, if they want to, they can allow themselves to be drawn into the history of salvation that God is creating. Only in that way can their freedom be preserved. What drives them to the new thing cannot be force, not even moral pressure, but only the fascination of a world that is changed.” Gerhard Lothenk.
The quote above is one of the most inspired articulations of the Gospel and its' call for us as His people to become His incarnate Presence "in a small way at one single place in the world...that is, where the world becomes what it is supposed to be according to God's plan" that I have ever come across. I wanted to share it with all of you and to include my own reflections on some of its implications during this Advent season and journey.
Advent in its essence is certainly the beginning of that journey towards a specific place - the lowly manger, the Holy Family, the radiant God incarnate in the newborn Son - where shepherds, townsfolk and Kings were drawn to 'come and see', to behold and test and taste and see for themselves this "new thing". Being the Church as pilgrims in this world doesn't mean we lack a rootedness in a certain place where we can grow together, while on the Way toward the fullness of the Kingdom salvation of our God. It means we are called, in renouncing and denying ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Jesus in faith, love and radical obedience, to so live His Life together that others "can allow themselves to be drawn into the history of salvation that God is creating...only by the fascination of a world that is changed."
There is a great cost to answering this kind of call to follow Jesus; for, it not only involves a personal journey and response, but also a communal, commonly shared, familial commitment to allowing the power of Christ's Advent into our lives to be so central, foundational, preeminent that our local gatherings and mission as Christ's members - and thereby, members of one another - becomes His tangible, visible Presence that can be seen and experienced - "where the salvation of the world", and our local communities and settings can begin.
Advent is a journey of longing, a journey of anticipation, a journey of expectation that finds the beginning of its' fulfillment in the incarnate Creator and Redeemer lying vulnerable in a manger, in a cave on the side of a hill, pointing us to His willingness to share in our human nature so that the creation could begin again! Begin to be made new through His first Advent.
Between the first and second Advent, which we ponder over and meditate on in preparation, we are called to be A Presence in the Word - His Presence in the world! I am convinced that this can only happen in a world-transforming way if, as His members, His family, His humble, but royal priesthood of kings, we are willing to allow Him to probe the depths of our hearts during the season of Advent and Christmas in a way that will make manifest the leavening power of His reign of redeeming love within and among us. So that we can then become 'epiphany' experiences and encounters for all those world-weary, empty cistern lives around us - in our place - that feel the tug to another world, another Way of Life and are looking for communities of Christ's Body that are slowly, but genuinely attempting to grapple with the questions, "how then shall we live?" and "who is it that you seek?"
Advent is about God's loving mercy and grace in Jesus His Son working in us in such a way that we are more deeply changed, equipped and prepared to be the Good News in every aspect of our living, not just "church" or "spiritual" times and settings. To become the ambassadors of another government and culture, the government that is on His shoulders, and is ever increasing in its power and peace, and to offer in our imperfect but graced and in-Spirited way - together - "a place where the salvation of the world can begin...where the world becomes what it is supposed to be according to God's plan." - all the while living on pilgrimage that looks for and longs for His second Advent to complete and consummate His Kingdom on earth as in Heaven.
This is Advent, a Presence in the world, in sometimes small places or small beginnings (remember! do not despise those small beginnings; for "the eyes of the Lord rejoice to see the work begin!" Zech. 4:10) and we are the communities of the Presence available to embrace and love fellow searching sojourners, all being drawn to the same manger, the same Cross, the same Light, the same promise and Hope that in His coming He has already begun to make all things new!
"Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee!"
May each of you experience a joyful, soul-searching, faith renewing Advent journey, together with your families and all those you serve in Jesus' wonderful Name.