Advent days 17 & 18: Hearing and Seeing.
I took this photo last night. It is of some solar baubles. Though cheap, there appears nothing cheap about the image reflected back. Reading my way through what is Karl Barth’s second book in the Church Dogmatics series, I was stopped by the phrase: ‘the Gospel is a light in an otherwise dark place’ (1938:55). Not being completely content with just rushing through the text, and being cautious of overlooking, overstating or missing out completely on some insight. Sometimes when reading Barth, I wonder in awe at the concepts before me, which effectively slows my reading down to a complete stop. This happens to be one of those moments.
Barth writes: ‘the time of Jesus Christ takes the place of our time, coming to us as a glad message presented to us as a promise, to be seized and lived by us’ (Ibid, p.55). In Jesus Christ, God shows us ‘that he has time for us, a time which is right, genuine and real’ (Ibid, p.55).
Writing on some of the strengths of advent this week, it occurred to me that another one of Advent’s strengths is that it is not only a recollection of this fact, it is the declaration of it. God makes time for us. Like the shepherds we find ourselves bewildered by the message, fearful of the what, the who and curious about the where to. The declaration first made by an Angel must have been like and explosion of light. Perceptible by ear and visual by sight. Luke informs us that the shepherds followed. In faith and by way of reason, these shepherds confirmed what they had been told with what they would hear and see – they sensed, in real time, the God advent in the Christ event.
It is by no small, cheap, sun powered glow that God has time for you or me. It is by His son, given, vindicated and victorious. Mother Julian of Norwich(c.1342-c.1416) in ‘Revelations of Divine Love’, wrote:
‘out of love for us he wraps us around, fastens the clasp, and enfolds us in his love, so that he will never leave us. I saw that he is everything that is good for us…creation exists now and always because God loves it, made it, and looks after it’ (1987:13)
We are indeed graciously held above the abyss because of the fact that in Jesus Christ, God exhibited his love, care and creativity, making time to be for us and with us.