The communion messages of Christmas keep on coming. This is from Christmas time of last year. I know there are some who will think I missed an important coming of Christ from my list. I did that on purpose. I thought about it when I wrote this. I knew it might upset some people. And in fact, someone did indeed feel the need to say publicly that I should have included the last coming of Christ in my message. But I think focusing on that one tends to undo the last one I mention. I think it’s important that we don’t sit on our fat butts and wait for god to sort out everyone’s problems in the end. It’s our job, I believe, to bring comfort to the afflicted, and affliction to the comfortable. But who want to do that when we are the comfortable. Anyway, I’ve gone and got myself all riled up. Peace.
Well, it’s the second week of advent.
Advent, as some of you know, is the time for anticipating Christ’s coming. One cool thing about advent, and communion time, is that it gives Christ’s coming context. It fills in the before and the after of this important event. And I want to do that a little this morning.
Also, I like the idea that we’re anticipating a three-fold coming of Christ. There’s Christ’s coming into each of our own individual lives, in whatever shape that takes. There’s Christ’s coming into the world as baby Jesus. And Christ’s continual entering into the world through us, his church, his hands and feet. I want to talk about all three of these comings—stories we relive every year.
Each of us has lived in darkness. All of us, I’ll be so bold to say, still struggle with that darkness. And lighting the advent candles, one candle, one week at a time, reminds of this. The darkness, slowly gives way to light as the candles of hope, peace, joy, and love are lit. And we remember, whether it was at a junior high church camp, or after a long struggle with addiction, or at a time when you weren’t even looking and were surprised by Christ’s coming into your life, we remember our own first encounter with Christ and our movement from darkness into light. And we are encouraged to continue.
And of course there’s the coming of Christ as the baby Jesus. If ever an event needed context in the world, this is it. As silly as it is to hear the character in the film Talladega Nights pray to 8 pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus, the point is made. To much of the world, safe little baby Jesus is the one we know, the one we’re comfortable with, the one who doesn’t challenge us.
Because we know baby Jesus grew up. And he lived out the words of the prophets. “Undo the bands of the yoke, And let the oppressed go free. Divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; and when you see the naked, to cover him.” When god came to us, here on earth, as a man, he told us to care for the poor and the sick and the outcast. And he lived an example of this for us. And he showed us what happens when you stand up against the powers of the world, and stand with and for the weak and disenfranchised. He was crucified.
But after they killed him, he came back. And he continues to come back. This is the third coming of Christ that I mentioned before. Every time someone visits a prisoner, or feeds the hungry, or clothes those that need clothes, or sits with the weird lonely person at school or work, or shares what they have with folks that won’t be able to return the favor; there’s Jesus, the one in prison and hungry and naked, the outcasts sitting by themselves, those hungry kids we see on TV, and the one’s in our own community. And there’s Jesus too, visiting, feeding and clothing; our hands and feet, our time and effort, hopefully. Jesus coming into the world again and again and again. Merry Christmas.