One theme has permeated my sermons, articles, and conversations in the last few months, and it is: If God has revealed himself so many times throughout the story of God's people, why do we feel this is not happening anymore? Or is it? If so, where and how?
As we approach Christmas, these questions become even more relevant. The Incarnation has revealed God in human form. In other words, God said yes to the material universe, which basically says that it's good to be human, it's good to be on this earth, it's good to be flesh, it's good to have emotions. And so, it makes sense that Christmas became the great celebratory feast of Christians because God is here!
However, when we speak of Advent or preparing for the joyful celebrations of Christmas, we are not just talking about the waiting for the little baby Jesus to be born. That already happened about 2021 years ago. In fact, we're welcoming the Christ that is forever being born in the human soul and into history.
And believe me, we do have to make room for this experience in our lives because right now, there is no room in the 'inn' of our human busy-ness for such a mystery. We see things pretty much in their materiality, but we don't see the light shining through. We don't see the incarnate Spirit that is hidden inside God's creation that includes us too.
God is forever coming into the world. It's like an eternal Advent. In Jesus, we have the Incarnation with a Capital 'I'; and when we become aware of God's revelation in us, through us or in our reality, we can call it incarnation with a small 'i'. The awareness of the moment when God is revealing himself to us is the moment that God abide in us and us within God. When we pay attention to these moments, when we grasp this experience, it changes us from the inside out, and we start to see things differently, therefore from God's point of view.
Our celebrations must start from this Incarnation that is with capital I that is Christmas. God came to our reality, born as a baby. But our experience with God is also incarnation. If we keep our attention only on the shopping extravaganza, carol singing, services and sparkles of the Christmas tree lights, we miss the experience with God that wants to incarnate in us through the Spirit, so that, like the apostle Paul, we may also declare 'I no longer live, but Christ lives in me'.
Advent is much more than us preparing for the big party, but us preparing for the experience with God. What does that mean in practice? Remember what was said about the birth of Jesus: 'The people that were in darkness saw a great light'. Can you imagine what that means? Can you imagine what is it to live in darkness? Can you imagine what is it to live life with guilt, abandonment, exclusion, judgment? Live through crisis and have a sensation that everything is collapsing around you? I can agree that with all the illness around the Circuit now we may feel like we are in the darkness. But can you imagine what it means for people, for us, when God comes with grace, forgiveness, love, and a welcoming embrace? Can you see the liberation, the opportunity to live life again in its fulness? That is the light that comes through God Incarnated in Christ and God incarnating through us. And that is what we and the world need right now.
When we give birth to one aspect of God in us, in ourselves, and we are changed by it, that is when the people in darkness can experience God's light. It comes through us. It means that for forgiveness, love, welcoming embrace, and grace to take place, we need to: overcome our hurts so we can learn to forgive; overcome our discrimination and prejudices so we can be able to welcome strangers; overcome our judgmental attitude so God's grace can prevail through us. Overthrow our attachment so God's change and transformation can happen. Triumph over our self-entitlements so surrender to God's will prevails. So, people that are in darkness can learn the true meaning of joyful celebrations.
But we cannot do it by ourselves. God's incarnation needs to be continuous. Therefore, Christmas needs to happen every day. So, we need to be born again every day as Christ is born in us and through us. That is the reason for all the celebration and joy of Christmas: a reminder of God's constant incarnation in us and in this reality.
For now, I wish you all joyful celebrations!
Beyond that, I wish you will see and experience that light. So, You will be God's light in the world.
Rev Betto Viana