The “Advent” season really only means something to those familiar with the Christian calendar or tradition. I’d like to change that. The Advent season within the Christian world has lost much of it’s inclusivity and has increasingly become more tribal as churches strive to reconnect parishioners to what it calls “The Reason for the Season.” Theologically speaking, the church’s christology becomes exclusively Jesus centric as it either gets nostalgic over 8lb 3oz “baby Jesus,” or it weaves bible prophecy into our modern news narratives.
Both extremes completely miss the Advent.
The arrival of the “anointed one” (the Messiah or the Christ) is supposed to bring light, healing, and restoration to a suffering, confused and darkened world. Is it fair to question the outcome of Christological claims if we still have such suffering, confusion, and darkness throughout the world?Was the Advent of Christ to inaugurate the world’s biggest institutional religion? Is the promise of God coming back to the world restorative if the plan is to take only a few lucky ones back and then destroy the rest of humanity along with this world? These questions push on the modern narrative which obscures our ability to truly see who, what and where the Advent actually takes place.
The advent produced by religion gives us almost nothing in that it redeems barely anything. We clearly worship what we do not know.
The miracle of the advent is that it is hidden in plain sight, each day, for each of us within the frame of our everyday life and reality. The birth of Jesus, I believe, was the cosmic advent of Christ in a global sense. Jesus subverted religion (institutional power) to free people back into an authentic faith in God. Freedom is the effect of social, physical, racial, and economic healing. There wasn’t anything to formal to join, there were no barriers to entry. Faith is personally recognizing that we are each, already, beloved of God and then life was merely applying what that means for each of us. Whether we are talking about King Herod, Mary, the innkeeper or the Maggi, the arrival of Jesus produces almost no meaning until the implications of his story break through to our personal existence and frame of reality. Remember, Church and State hated the work of Jesus and put him on the Cross. Their propaganda continues today. Once we see the life of the Christ playing out as our life, the Advent has come for us personally.
Every human shares equality in this Christological reality. Let that sink in.
In other words, we are all waiting for something. The advent is completely unavoidable and undeniable. We think we are waiting for that promotion, that child, that healing, that big break, for our circumstances to finally change, or for some thing or one day. Can you think of a single person who isn’t waiting for something which, if it came, would move them from life as it is unto life which is slightly better? Christ is hidden in plain sight as our very life and we struggle to see it. Unfortunately our religions don’t offer much help.
The Advent is the moment this Ultimate Reality appears. Usually through suffering or some disorienting event which wakes us up.
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4)
“A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.” (John 3:27)
The Advent of Christ is the same today as it has always been. Religion tells us to look “out there” or “over there” our “up there” for some cosmic unfolding of global events. Or it gushes over a nostalgic event 2000 years ago. Or it offers some version of a “Genie in a lamp” that if we rub it just the right way…then the Advent will come. The genie is not in the lamp, we are in the genie. Advent is the moment you recognize it.
Reoriented. Authentic. Seeing. Healed. Restored. Saved….Everything promised has already come.
These are all advents, collectively they are THE Advent, but each is not your advent. The only advent we ultimately believe is the moment we awaken from our anesthesia to see that our average life, which we skim over every day, is the advent of Christ arriving in and as our very life. Until we see this, we are left always waiting, wanting, with hope balancing precariously upon our teetering, pathetic little faith. Advent is the end of “one-day” disease, it’s the ARRIVAL. Advent is HERE. Advent is NOW. Advent is THIS MOMENT. Advent is PRESENCE.
Look at your hands…closely…your body is your advent.
Each breath is the Advent.
Look at your schedule this week…closely…the next thing you do is your advent.
Each moment is the Advent.
Look at your immediate surroundings…closely…the sphere in your reach is your advent.
Each place is the Advent.
Consider all your failings, shortcomings and sins…closely…these shadows point you to the light of your Advent.
That part that wants to change is the Advent.
Your Advent is the moment you meet the anointed one hidden in your life. It’s personal…It’s cosmic…It’s both Jesus… and the Christ.
It doesn’t look very religious, does it?
It doesn’t look very glamorous, does it?
It doesn’t meet your expectations, does it?
It’s not the rescue you thought it was, is it?
Religion and irreligion are both faithless embodiments of those who cannot or refuse to see the arrival of Christ in life.
Consider this interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Had Jesus followed his religion, he would never have spoken to her. Had he followed religion he would had condemned her for her immorality. Instead, he he subverts religion and challenges her to do the same for her religious assumption which told her she would have to find (worship) God on in a certain way (mountain). She discovers Christ right there in the midst of her unspectacular life.
“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”” (John 4:22-26)
As a Samaritan she doesn’t fit into the religious crowd. As an unmarried woman living with a man, she doesn’t fit in the morally obedient crowd. She’s marginalized by both religion and irreligion because she still holds on to a faith that God is out there someday and that the advent of the anointed one (Christ) will set things straight for her. When Christ came to her, she didn’t recognize it at first because it was hidden within her mundane reality of fetching water in the heat of the day.
One day…became visible in today. That’s Advent.
The Advent isn’t coming. It’s not based on a calendar. It’s not found in any religion. It’s not in an ancient story. It’s not in a future prophesy one day. The advent is HERE. “…an NOW is…” The advent of Christ is our life and mind. The transformation of the world begins the moment this reality sets into our myopic frame of self reference.
Instead of looking up to the sky and waiting, try seeing the advent as the person who just cut you off in traffic. Try seeing the advent as that person staring back at you in the mirror. I’m not saying you and I are Christ, I’m saying we are not other than Christ, and that realization can change everything, for everyone.