Advent days 23-24: God is present
Walking past our computer last night I saw my daughter working away at something. I walked closer and discovered her designing a nativity scene using the standard “paint” software found on most computers.
The artwork was of her own making, straight from her heart utilising gifts and developing skills we are yet to teach her.
It reminded me that the advent season is a journey that involves both movement and anticipation. Lesson and learning.
God teaches us because He loves us. He chooses to reaches out to us because He wants to be near us.
The march from the advent-outhouse to Golgotha is sign-posted by the Christ mass (for Catholics); the Christ Passion (for Protestants). The Christ march is for our celebration. Such a celebration is to be ‘marked by the forgiveness of sins and the cry of joy that Jesus is the Victor!’[i] Christ is at once ‘God’s judgement and God’s compassion’ (Dickson & Clarke, 2007:116).
It is not about marking an eve of devastation, but the eve of destruction and subsequent restoration, whereby God takes His rightful place in our lives. Today is a day when all earthly authority which stands as its own supreme authority is put on notice. A time when they are reminded that what little authority they have is borrowed, if not, only delegated to them.
Such a theology is not about empty, deluded triumphalism. Rather it is about understanding that because of the living God, the world is living in the light of Jesus the Christ. Creation groans, we are told, and is experiencing in ever greater events the dawn of His physical return. The Holy Spirit seeks to reconcile you and me, the time of grace is now, present.
Karl Barth wrote:
The ‘Christian message is an historical truth…not one truth among others; it is the truth. In thinking of God, we have from the beginning to think of the name of Jesus Christ, the unity of God and man, by being an historical truth which became real at that time and place, is no transitory truth…To pronounce the name of Jesus Christ means to acknowledge that we are cared for, that we are not lost.’
‘God is not an ideological imaginary friend. If we look at the covenant which God has really concluded with humanity, then we know that it is not so. God on high is really near to us in the depths. God is present.’[ii]
I agree with Barth when he says that ‘to celebrate Christmas is to see salvation’[iii].
This act relates to us the truth as it penetrates all kinds of un-forgiveness, absent apology, broken recollection and insecure reflection.
Right here, at this time of year we are confronted in Jesus Christ by the God of the exodus who still ‘has a future for His creation. That this future is somehow intrinsically related to the mission of Christ and the intention of God in raising him from the dead’(Moltmann)[iv]
It is Christmas eve. The summer heat over the past three days is breaking as a cool southern wind brings clouds and cooler days. The sky although grey, is full of promise. Today’s post will mark my 200th contribution to theo-blogosphere. I write in order to express a ‘faith which seeks understanding’ (Anselm of Cantebury). My conversation partners on this journey are people who held, and hold on to such an understanding.The Living God invites us to this conversation. I hope, at least, my attempts in responding have been far more than just a “dinner and a show”.
Whether you be a weary traveller or an energetic pilgrim, I thank you for reading my ramblings this far.