Living Word Lutheran Church, Marshall
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 was in the beginning with God. 3 things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:1-5
This time of year the Christian church tries to sing a song that it hasn't practiced very much since the Dark Ages. The song is called "Advent." We sing it to a busy world, emphasizing the tired refrains of simplicity, surrender and Christian hope coupled with the unannounced expectation of Jesus' return to earth with his judgment sword in hand. It's not a very "Christmassy" message. There are no ponies or candy canes in these lyrics.
To the distracted, the Advent song of the Christian church sounds more like a funeral dirge when all we really want to sing are some sentimental Christmas carols.
But "Advent" (we object) is a song formerly sung by people that not only once knew the tune very well as well, including the harmony but who also believed its message and clung to the hope it sang about.
The impact of Advent's song hasn't necessarily been diminished by any conscious decision on our part but is effected, I submit, as an outcome of our trying to compete with the steady crescendo of every other song vying for our attention in the maddening cacophony of our modern media blitz as it impinges into every conscious minute - leaving us with our dream world as the only place of respite - a place where angels often visit, as we listen for the timeless truths heard in the messages of Advent.
While it would be convenient to blame the demise of Advent's significance on the digital age, social networking or our ridiculous opulence the truth is that we will not fully experience what the return of Jesus means until Jesus returns.
You'll hear this in several forms this Christmas, but it will go something like this. "There is as much, if not more, reason for God to send the Savior to the world today as there was back in 0005 A.D." Whoever repeats that refrain will be stating the obvious for the human race and (if you listen closely) for themselves personally and they will be right: a good time for Jesus to return is yesterday.
For until we recognize (personally) that we need Jesus to leap out of that frosty little hay-stuffed trough (with his cute little balled-up fist) and totally embrace his cross as an adult man in order to bleed and die for our redemption - as God - we will be unable to fully accept the full import of the Advent season or its mournful song: O come, Immanuel, ransom captive Israel!
What might be keeping you from growing closer to the adult Jesus - our redeemer? Could it be our secular culture's insistence on keeping Jesus in the manger: because he looks so cute in there?
Has our collective, perpetual amnesia as to who God really is softened the truth of our need for redemption? Have we walked backward into a place where we place more confidence in some of the cultural myths that keep the real Jesus at a distance; such as, "Jesus came to give us the best holiday ever? How nice of him!"
Or "Jesus came because we are such good people at heart, you know 'pa rum pa pa pum' and all that." Or worse: "Hey since I had a birthday this year Jesus should have one too, after all it's HIS birthday party (dog-gone-it)!" Should we expect him today or would it be more helpful if he waited until after the holidays?
You see if we were such good people we would need neither a Savior in the first place nor would be beg for his return immediately. And since we aren't that good maybe all we can do is attempt to ponder what the gospel writer John wrote concerning him (see above); verses we don't typically pull out until after Easter - whenever that is.