This word gives context to kingdom unlike any other. God’s plan for redeeming creation required for Jesus to become an immigrant, particularly, one from another world. God’s plan for love and beauty being restored could not be accomplished from afar. His power worked from within, within our world severed from the eternal chord of hope.
This is the story of Advent.
Advent is the Latin word for “coming”. When we enter the season of Advent, we are often fixed on the first and maybe even second coming of Christ. We are brought into the story of a displaced people waiting almost hopelessly at points for some light, some being, that could bruise the head of the serpent and break the rod of the oppressor.
At this point, Israel had been waiting for a really, really long time. Waiting for Emmanuel…
When God brings us into seasons of waiting, the response we are called to is one of expectancy. Prophets and other faithful ones kept the flame alive, no matter how bright or dim. Their expectation, a star in the night sky, never burned out entirely. They became the custodians of Israel’s story, the story of Messiah. Even with these faithful souls, Israel’s hope had all but perished.
Actually, in the absence of continuing to be expectant for Messiah, Israel had all but lost their identity. We read scriptures originally written in Greek and Aramaic because the Hebrews were in the process of giving up their language, their mother tongue. Anthropologically speaking, when a culture loses its language, it is a death nail of sorts that makes once vibrantly practiced tradition only history, myth or legend.
It is in this context that Jesus came for a hopeless people, whose own leaders were bought and controlled by the Roman empire of the day. Jesus came – to and through – a broken world, a people whose fire was burning out.
In the birth of Christ, heaven literally invaded earth. Divine crossed the cosmic border into this realm of flesh and blood, this place of chaos and brokenness. Jesus came from the outside into a world of outsiders.
In that process, He wept with weepers, healed the sick and gave love to the undeserving. He experienced their pain, not just physically and spiritually on the cross, but throughout His life and ministry.
He did not push invisible God buttons from His celestial throne, but became subject to the death and decay this life throws at us. He yielded to the gambit of human and demonic violence and ridicule unto destruction. This was His plan, not just to rewrite the story of humanity, but to become a part of it.
This is not safe. He is not safe.
We…though…generally like it safe.
The other part of Advent not often talked about is that God desires to come daily into our experiences, manifesting His goodness and peace. This advent of God into our lives is most often demonstrated through His people. We are invited into a life of bringing His coming into people’s lives – no matter how broken their worlds may be.
Why is it so hard for us to do this up close…near people? Yet this is precisely how God works. His nearness is revealed through Jesus, God incarnate, on earth. His nearness is demonstrated by His Spirit at work in us.
God is near.
When we see the hurting hurt, the struggling struggle, we would often like to help, but what we do is attempt to bring some hope from our comfortable abodes of peace and protection. We want to enter the brokenness from afar, spiritually speaking, emotionally speaking…locationally speaking.
We are not willing to risk our own safety, our own inconvenience, our own neat worlds of predictability to bring healing from the place of nearness. Nearness costs us our comfort.
We refuse to leave our heavens to COME into people’s hells.
Jesus came to be near, not far. He calls us to be near, not far.
In Advent, His coming, Emmanuel should be demonstrated through me, through us. Let us follow the example of one leaving a place of perfect peace to be a manifestation of perfect peace.
As Christians become known for this way of life, I believe culture will begin to expect, to look again for the Advent, the coming, the breakthrough of His world into ours.
Will we leave our places of safety?
Husband to Andrea, Dad to Grace, Eden & Judah
Spiritual Director of ClearPath Church in Dallas, TX
Co-Director of Clearpath.life
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