Brian’s Reflection: Monday, December 13, 2010
What has happened to the old-fashioned, spiritual Christmas? The cause is
our disregard of Advent. The church set aside this four-week pre-Christmas
season as a time of spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming. It is a time of
quiet anticipation. If Christ is going to come again into our hearts, there must
be repentance. Without repentance, our hearts will be so full of worldly things
that there will be ‘no room in the inn’ for Christ to be born again.…We have the
joy not of celebration, which is the joy of Christmas, but the joy of Anticipation.
John R. Brokhoff, in “Preaching the Parables”
Christians are in the last full week of the liturgical “season” called Advent. So, I’m going to concentrate on this for the next few days. The word “Advent” derives from the Latin – Coming (venire) To (ad). Advent is, to my mind, a universal “spiritual” season in human lives. In some way, every faith or religion has an Advent – “a time of spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming.”
To be more precise as well as inclusive, “The” Christ’s coming – by which I mean, the preparation of the human heart for the “descent” of the Life-giving Breath of the Divine into each of us. Or, in other words, our awakening to our Human fullness and destiny as the amazing Being that we each Are.
Brokhoff laments the loss of the “old-fashioned, spiritual Christmas”. I do too. Somewhere along the way, the celebration of the Presence of God in the Universe and in each of us – called in Christian terms the “Incarnation” (from the Latin “made flesh in”) – became distorted. And whenever it happened, modern advertising, in its manipulative skill, took the story of the Three Magi Bearing Gifts (a rich symbolic story) and managed to convince us that the Incarnation was all about buying stuff to give to others, or ourselves. Shame on us for being so dull-witted.
Of course I’ll add my “rant” here: let’s forget it! I don’t care if the whole economy collapses if we do forget it! We’ll reorganize. It’s more important to tend to our evolving into our full Humanity!
The Mystery of the Divine coming “again into our hearts” is a daily, momentary thing. The Problem? We human beings can be very – as the Brits would say – “thick”. “The World is too much with us” as I think Shakespeare said. All practice of Religion (from the Latin, meaning “to be re-tied to”) is for the purpose of connecting us to our Path to Wholeness. Hence my occasional warnings that Religion must be monitored regularly to make sure that it is doing its job.
“”Repentance” means (yes, from the Latin! God, I wish that Western education hadn’t been so stupid as to stop teaching Latin; how the hell are young people, or others, ever going to understand Western culture??!!) to “regret or feel sorry”. The implication being that out of regret or sorrow will come an openness to being coaxed towards ….. Beauty. Which is Truth, as someone famously said.
Who, in your deepest either Joy or Despair, have you longed to be? Advent invites us to long for it and expect it.