Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First Sunday in Advent 2010

Romans 13:11-14

     In this week’s Epistle reading from Romans, Paul reminds us that “we know what time it is…”
     We know who Christ is and why He came into this world and into our lives. Still, we hold Christ at arm’s length, never fully embracing the Way in which he calls us to live. Never fully knowing Emmanuel, God with us.
     Paul goes on to encourage us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.”
     Just what does that mean for us today? How does that look? If we wore the mantel of Christ, what would others see?
     I believe it is especially important to wear the mantel of Christ and Live out our Christian faith during Advent and Christmas. As Christians, we are always being watched, being judged. “Does she live up to what she says believes?” “Are his actions the actions of a Christian?” “Is he imitating Christ?”
     At Christmas, and Easter, the world is watching us even more closly, judging us more harshly. That judgment falls on us and, because we are Christians, judgment of us f falls on Christ.
Paul’s call in Romans 13 is for the Church to live our beliefs, to fully live out our faith. To put on the mantel of Christ and live so others will know the joy of His love.
     Beyond the commercialism of Christmas, beyond the excesses of the season, we are called to live as Christ lived. To live as models of love, peace, hope and joy. As the world hustles and bustles around you this Christmas Season, be still. Show others the joy you have in Christ by taking the time to live out the promise of Christ’s coming into this world.
     Even those most cynical toward Christianity get that there is more joy in giving than getting. Show the world that the REAL JOY of Christmas comes from both getting and giving. From getting Christ’s love and giving Christ’s love. Real Joy comes from welcoming Christ into the world and into your life and then sharing the gift of Christ with others.

Gracious and loving God, give me the courage to be still as the world swirls around me. Help me find ways, simple ways, to express your love and to express the joy that comes from Your love to those around me.
We pray this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Preparing For Advent

 As I prepare my heart for the season of Advent, I find myself repeating the lament of so many Christians at this time of year. "Why has Christmas become so commercial?" This is not a new lament for me or for the church, but I'm ready to do something about it in my life.

This year, I have decided to celebrate Advent rather than the co-opted version of christmas forced upon me by American culture. Who cares if store clerks in the mall say "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas?" Mall shopping has N O T H I N G to do with the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ. The American christmas has nothing to do with the Christian celebration of Emmanuel, God with us. The American christmas has nothing to do with the Christian celebration of Christmas, Christ's Mass.

In his 1950's book "Season's of Celebration", Thomas Merton wrote:
It is important to remember the deep, in some ways anguished seriousness of Advent, when the mendacious celebrations of our marketing culture so easily harmonize with our tendency to regard Christmas, consciously or unconsciously, as a return to our innocence and our own infancy. But the church, in preparing us for the birth of a “great prophet,” a Savior, and a Prince of Peace, has more in mind than seasonal cheer. The Advent mystery focuses the light of faith upon the very meaning of life, history, humanity, the world, and our own being. In Advent, we celebrate the coming, and indeed the presence, of Christ in our world.

There is so much more to Christmas and Advent than commercialism and there is more to the season than complaining about the commercialism. I choose to ignore the American christmas and celebrate the coming of Christ and the realization of God with us.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tikkun Olam: Restoring God's Light

     Tikkun Olam is a beautiful concept that comes from the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah. Roughly speaking, Tikkun Olam refers to repairing the world or restoring God’s Light in the world in order to repair the broken relationship between God and humankind.
     The concept is derived from a mystical re-telling of the creation story. When God, the source of all life and pure light, created the world He took part of Himself, His Light, and placed it in clay jars in the world to be the source of life and light for all of creation.