Unedited Advent Thoughts in Two Parts

Warning: when I said unedited… I meant it.

8:07 pm 12/8/14

“We shall ponder the in-comprehensibility of our lot and be assailed by the question of why, over and above the darkness already enshrouding humanity, we should be subjected to the bitter anguish of a separation whose purpose we fail to understand… And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God.  Our eyes are at fault, that is all.  God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment.  No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.” –Bonhoeffer

Every year

People wonder at me getting so stupidly excited about Christmas, and chalk it up to the gifts

I really don’t give a shit about the gifts, and haven’t for years

It’s just that…

…I probably hate this world more than most I know.

I mean, not…like that. It’s just that I’ve been longing to not be here since I was 14. I would read the Psalms, God’s word, and cry. I would weep because my soul misses him. Because HE is where I belong, no where else.

Yes, it’s a huge deal that Christ died on the cross. But it never ceases to be incredible to me that he came down in the first place.

That he didn’t just come down as a man, die, beat death, and peace out.

That he didn’t even just come down, minister for 3 years, die, beat death, and peace out.

He came. As a baby. He came as the son of a carpenter and a 14 year old girl who was almost stoned because people thought she was just a little slut when she was actually the favored one of God.

He dealt with parents who didn’t have it together. With puberty. With his peers being dumb. With the brutal rule of the Roman empire. With seeing his people that he loved enough to come to them be brutally beaten, enslaved, and oppressed.

And oh, I am sure that the final “It is finished” came out, at least in part, as a sigh of relief.

Advent.

It’s a season of waiting

Of waiting for Christmas, and all that entails in our materialistic culture. Of waiting for stressful family time, good family time, the cookies, the tree, the candles.

The light in the dark. The light of the world. Not just his first coming, but his second.

O God. O Emmanuel. Come, Saviour of the world. Prince of peace, heal your world.

So why isn’t he here yet?

Why was the holocaust, the Israel-Palestine conflicts, lynchings, the goddamn holy wars not enough to bring him back? Why has he not come yet, when his people just keep reproducing and more people go in and out of this broken, fallen world, hurting and being hurt?

He’s our flicker of hope in this darkness. But why does it seem he remains just a little candle in advent?

The Great I Am came in a manger.

And He preached love to his people, and then left us in our hate.

(Am I the only one who gets angry at God in candlelit services like this? Am I the only one who sits there with my candle, staring at the flame asking God “WHY?” in  2 parts wonder and 1 part bafflement at His coming and leaving? )

His spirit in us is supposed to make all this worth it.

Sun 12/14/14 11:34 pm

Thus advent can be celebrated only by those whose souls give them no peace, who know that they are poor and incomplete, and who sense something of the greatness that is supposed to come, before which they can only bow in humble timidity, waiting until he inclines himself toward us – the Holy One himself, God in the child in the manger.  God is coming; the Lord Jesus is coming; Christmas is coming. Rejoice, O Christendom!” – Bonhoeffer

I started this blog post a week ago, after weeks of reading the news and being heartbroken by the hatred around us. After weeks of longing for an end to all this hurt in the world. After weeks of being disappointed in people I know and love and their actions and words reflecting a lack of regard for the brokenness we are steeping in.  And then I broke at the candlelight service held for the nativity.

I guess I get emotional with God a lot. He’s the one I know can handle it, though. I was angry, asking Him why, asking why this fallen world has not yet been made new.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

-Matthew 5:3-4

Those verses… comfort me as they make my heart heavy. You know? Because He knows. He knows the pain we’re going through. And He promises to make it ok in the end. But it’s not the end, and buttercup, you’re going to have to figure out how to deal with it.

The day after I yelled at God for the hurt in this world, one of my professors posted on facebook an article entitled “Why God is Sending Christians Straight to Hell”.  Knowing her, I knew it wasn’t going to be one that made me feel like Jesus doesn’t love me because I’m worse than the others, so I clicked it.  What followed was an article about how we humans have made hell on earth, with God having nothing to do with it, and God knows it. But that the kingdom of God is present, and it is here, in His church.

And as the author says, “Hell is a place of suffering caused by spiritual, emotional, and physical violence. What does the kingdom of Heaven do when confronted with the violence of hell? The kingdom of Heaven goes straight into it.” (Adam Ericksen)

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy…”

-Matt 5:7

We were never meant to have a comfortable life. Hell, we were never meant to have a happy life.  We were meant to love, and as we can’t get anywhere damn near close to loving like we’re supposed to, we are meant to die to ourselves and let Christ love through us. We are meant to take a deep breath of His power and dive into the pit of hopelessness and heartbreak and suffering. We were never meant to avoid suffering in our comfortable houses and clubs and classes. We were meant for compassion. To “suffer with” others.

And through that, we are meant to experience His Spirit in a way that is totally impossible to do in comfort. We are meant to be filled with a peace that surpasses all understanding, deep joy, hope that our Saviour will come and defeat evil once and for all, but also that His church will step up to alleviate what they can what He will alleviate through them. And faith that when all seems lost, He will show up.

“In total reality, he comes in the form of a beggar, of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help.  He confronts you in every person that you meet.  As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes demands on you.  That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us.” –Bonhoeffer

Just as He did thousands of years ago on that cold night to a peasant couple and shepherds who never could’ve dreamed that the savior of the world would be born to them as a squishy baby in the midst of animal poop and a hurting world.

Emmanuel, friends. God is with us.

And He is with the hell of this world, through us.

(Here’s that article, BTW. Check it out. http://sojo.net/blogs/2014/12/09/why-god-sending-christians-straight-hell )

And another 🙂 http://www.agameforgoodchristians.com/posts/47

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