• Jeremiah 33:14-16 • 1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2 • Luke 21:25-28, 34-36 • 1 Advent C ‘13 •
The darkness and quiet of December invite us into Advent. Look! Listen! You will begin to see and hear Christmas – “Cultural Christmas” with the shopping, the music, the cards and the gatherings. These awaken fond memories and the birth of the historical Jesus. This year I hope you will go far beyond that. I hope you will go deeper into the Christ Mystery. Advent is a time of blessing for those who allow it to be.
This seasons scripture texts reverberate with apocalyptic images: “Stars falling, sun and moon becoming dark; the seas raging; nations in anguish.” If you take these images literally, you will miss the point. They are not a preview of future events. They herald a profound reality.
Life on our planet is fragile. The best of our scientists are convinced the cosmos as we know it is expanding and will never end. Perhaps someday it will end. We don’t know. Regardless, that is not a concern of the gospel! The apocalyptic images of the gospel portray the birth of a “new reality” — “the kingdom of God / God’s new reality” emerging among us.
Some still expect “The Son of Man” to return. Maybe we should, but I think he already has returned! His second coming happened when God raised him from the dead! The Risen Christ lives and “God’s new reality” continues to emerge. We see and experience that “new reality” wherever justice and peace are happening and we experience love.
I suggest our Advent/Christmas season is about “metamorphosis.” In biology the word “metamorphosis” means a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism. A caterpillar eats 100 times its weight, falls asleep and then forms a chrysalis. When the first cells of the butterfly begin to form themselves, the immune system of the caterpillar tries to fight them off. It fails! Those cells become the soup that nourishes the emerging butterfly.
The experience of our human family is similar. All who have gone before us, the seven billion of us now living on Earth, and all who will be born into tomorrow’s uncharted possibilities form one living organism. We are like a caterpillar preparing for our metamorphosis. A few consume excessively, millions starve while many of us sleep, and institutions fail. Some feel the invasion of “the new” and resist it with all of their might. Like the caterpillar, we don’t want to give up what we know and have. We lack sufficient moral outrage to fuel a change in our course.
In Jesus of Nazareth we became aware the Gracious Mystery we name God is immersed in the cosmos and every aspect of our human experience. He, “the Son of Man” – “the Human Being” is our emerging future. In the gradual evolution of our species he is the first to become fully human. The future is largely in our hands. We are the first to recognize this.
Throughout the cosmos a single candle is burning in darkness. Turn your head and you will begin to see Christmas – “Cultural Christmas,” the birth of the historical Jesus. This is insufficient for your true needs. Go deeper into the Christ Mystery. Advent/Christmas is “metamorphosis.” In biology the word “metamorphosis” means a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism. We are like caterpillars, engaged in the process of becoming butterflies. We are able to become what God intends us to be. We see what that is in the One who identifies himself as “the Son of Man / the Human Being.” God is creating us to be fully human. Nothing more, nothing less.
Trust the powers of your creative imagination. Your own consciousness is awakening. You want to set aside your dualistic thinking. Do it! You want to imitate Christ. Do it! You want to love without condition. Do it! In this season of darkness and quiet, open your heart, your mind, your soul to the blessing Advent offers. We are celebrating the Christ Mystery!