From the Pastor’s Heart
Madeleine L’Engle wrote: “Each galaxy, star, living creature, particle, and subatomic particle of creation is made in God’s image. How? Genesis gives no explanations. God’s explanation is to send Jesus, the Incarnate One, God enfleshed. Don’t try to explain the Incarnation to me! It is further from being explainable than the furthest star in the furthest galaxy. It is love, God’s limitless love, in the form of a human being, Jesus, the Christ, fully human and fully divine.”
God came down at Christmas, making an unforgettable in-person visit. The world has never been quite the same since.
It is still a very dark world, but the darkness is different because Jesus came. In the shadows of the threats of holocaust, sickness, pain, and our own deaths—Light beyond light shines in our hearts to give us peace, hope, and joy.
Theologian Frederick Buechner said, “Anyone who has ever known him has known him perhaps better in the dark than anywhere else, because it is in the dark where he seems to visit most often.”
Isaiah prophesied “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light; for those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine” (9:2). The One who made first light is the light of the world, and will be the light of heaven. When Jesus visits us in our darkness, he brings light.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases John’s gospel: “Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!—came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Light was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out. The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. This exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding—all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.” (John 1:2, 3, 14, 17, 18).
Every year we celebrate the season of Advent. Every year we pray beautiful prayers of waiting, and sing lovely songs of hope and promise. Every year we distill all our yearnings into a one word prayer: “Come!”
In some ways, this is a strange prayer. After all, Jesus has already come to earth. He has already shared our life with its joys, long days of routine, frustrations, and bitter end. Could we invite Jesus to anything more than this with our “Come”? Could He approach any nearer to us than he did when he became the Son of Man? In spite of all this we still pray: “Come.”
Advent can be a good time to prepare to celebrate Jesus “moving into the neighborhood” long ago and far away. But we can experience the joy of God’s Presence here and now, every day of the year—if we will only pay attention to his voice and walk his path (Psalm 16:11).