“Some people see things as they are and ask, why? I dream things that never were and ask, why not?”Robert Kennedy
At this time of year, the darkness seems even darker. I get up in the dark, and there is only a brief space of daylight and then it is dark again. And lately we are experiencing violence in our area as opponents clash around our State Capital in Olympia. There is constant news of rising infection rates and deaths from Covid 19. Even if there is a vaccine due to be delivered, we are in dangerous times. How long will this darkness last?
We need hope, and the world needs hope. In Advent we remember we are the people who still have hope in the face of darkness. We are not afraid to look at the darkness of our world, to recognize it is there, to name it, and not curse the darkness. We are a people who know God has entered our world, is with us now, and even now transforming our world. Light has come into the darkness!
This Christmas that we are preparing to celebrate reveals, in the person of Christ Jesus, what God has been about, and is about, and is doing right now. Christmas is God walking with us and breaking through in the person of Christ Jesus. It is about the overflowing goodness of God who pours out everything for us and holds back nothing. Christ Jesus comes as the clear revelation of the love of God.
Once upon a time… two waves in the ocean were having a conversation as they flowed endlessly forward. The larger wave was extremely depressed. A little wave was peacefully flowing along. “If you could see what I see from up here,” said the large wave, “you would not be so happy.” “Well, what is it?” said the little wave. “Oh, if we could only go back,” said the large wave, curling in on itself. “In a little while we are going to crash into the ends of the earth, and that will be the end of us!” (For the large wave had caught sight of the shore) “Oh that,” said the little wave, “that’s okay.” “What, are you crazy?” said the large wave, getting more agitated. “I know a secret that tells me it’s all okay,” said the little wave. “Do you want to know the secret?” The large wave was very worried, “Is there time for me to learn this secret, before I perish?” “Really, it is so simple,” said the little wave. “You are not a wave, you are water!” And the little wave sparkled in the light, danced with joy, and rushed to the shore. (Author unknown)
Like the large wave, we can get caught up in the ways of the world and forget who we are in Christ; forget we are part of something larger than ourselves – the Body of Christ. We become fearful, depressed, and are full of doom and gloom. Christian hope draws its life from the person of Christ Jesus, and roots itself in faith; faith in the promises of God. What is the promise? That God comes, bringing redemption, bringing salvation, to this time, to this place, and to this situation.
The message of God is this – God is with us, not only in the past, not just in the future, but here and now, today where we are. It is tempting to look back on the Christmas event as a moment in time and freeze it in a Christmas card. We put up crèches, Christmas trees and lights, and tell cute Christmas stories, watch Hallmark movies, and turn a world-shaking, universe-shaking explosion of God into our world into something warm and fuzzy. Are we trying to tame God? If we really understood Christmas – we would be a vastly different people.
We have started our approach to Christmas. It is the coming of Christ Jesus that we prepare for. The first coming has already happened, and we name this event Christmas, and because of the Incarnation, we no longer doubt that God is on our side. We prepare to be touched once again with this mystery; to contemplate what it means to us that God is with us. Let us allow Christmas to change us.
The Advent season teaches us to await the Second Coming of Christ, the parousia, when the kingdom of God will be fully established. But, and this is essential, we are supposed to wake up to the fact that Christ Jesus comes to us every day, and is alive and active in us – this is what it means to be a Christian! Being filled with the spirit of Christ! While we wait and hope, we are to care for the Beloved Community of God that is already here. While we wait and hope, we must work.
The healthier world we yearn for begins with you and me. The closer we are to God, the more we will hear a call to reach out to others; to build a more loving world. We learn to be extravagant with others, for God is extravagant with us. We learn forgiveness of others, for God forgives us. We learn to pray for our enemies, and even learn to love them, for God loves us. We, who are in Christ through our baptisms, begin now to act as if God is in charge in our world. We take our stand with God, against the greed, power and control that lead to violence.
Robert Kennedy, I believe speaking out of his Catholic roots, said something that still means a lot to me today: He said…
“Some people believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills – against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence … it is true that few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events… It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. …Some people see things as they are and ask, why? I dream things that never were and ask, why not?”
Do you think God will establish the kingdom of Love with violence? With force? With coercion? No… People are the ones who think we can take a short cut to peace through violence. Jesus, coming to us as an infant in a manger, shows a quite different way to peace. Jesus shows us that God takes no short cuts. God uses love, patience, kindness, and every persuasion of love to bring us to peace. God shows us the path to walk.
We are in the in-between times, between the coming of Christ Jesus in history, and the fulfillment of the promises of God. The shoot has sprung from the stump of Jesse, the kingdom of God has come into our world, and it is our task to help it grow! Growth will mean that our world will keep becoming a healthier, more just, more kind place for all.
Advent is the beginning of a new Church year. It is a season to restart our lives, to resolve to do better, to arrive at a conversion of heart . Suggested exercise for Advent: light the candles in your Advent wreath each week. Today we re-light the candles of hope and peace, and we light the candle of joy.
Let us pray… Compassionate God, you alone can bring light to the darkness. You can heal us, and give us power to forgive others, to end the darkness of violence and death. Help us Most High. You are our light and our salvation! Amen.
My beloved ones, let us dream things that never were, and ask, why not?