Approx. read time: 2:30 min.
In these last, precious days of Advent my thoughts, and creative energies, are deep into the Scriptures of the Lenten season.
And I notice that this Lenten immersion jolts my understanding of what I celebrate at Christmas. This is a good thing.
Jesus, even in his infancy, has power to rattle the engine room of the vast and occupying Roman Empire. Herod’s jealousy erupts into death-wielding rage. (Read about the Magi’s visit and its bloody aftermath, in Matthew, chapter 2.)
Already, business-as-usual, in its many forms of oppression, is being challenged by One who eventually will preach, live, and die for a nonviolent, life-affirming vision of how we be a people. Not through oppression but through liberation; not through intimidation, but through intentional cultivation of all that is worthy within each person, within society.
Thomas Merton once wrote that we have not yet begun to understand the Gospels. I believe him. The world I live in is not anywhere near God’s vision, for which we pray daily: Your kingdom, come! Your reign, come! On Earth! Here, and now, as in Heaven!
Rather than feel discouraged, I feel hope. We pray these words daily because the Spirit of the risen Christ is not yet finished praying them through us.
Hope is no vaporous wish, lacking agency. It is the tidal swell of potency, and right action, God’s action, cleverly disguised as our own, in this world.
Which means: You and I still have work to do.
This Christmas the hymns and decorations will be the same. Yet you and I are one year farther along, more fully the self we are becoming. Our celebration should feel more urgent, the flame more ardent.
We hope. I hope. And I defend hope’s right to exist.
I tenaciously cling to the hope that this world will awaken from its deep sleep of inhumanity and insatiable greed; awaken from the deadly violence of war and “power over” in all its hideous forms.
I hope because I still believe the words I pray: Your reign, come! On Earth, yes, as in Heaven.
I believe with all my heart that the reign of God is possible!
And my hope impels me to give myself wholeheartedly to the work of peacemaking, and revealing God’s justice, generosity, and joy. Right here. Right now.
I fervently hope that the reign of God, the Land of the Rightside Up, will be more fully realized by the likes of you and me, and all the holy ones, the courageous and prophetic ones, the steadfast and faithful ones, the wholehearted ones, the imaginative and industrious ones, the gifted and generous ones.
On Earth. Here, and now, as in Heaven. Let’s hold hope that’s as real, and alive, as the Infant who rattled an Empire.