Monday, December 15, 2008

A Final Proclamation Of Joy To The World

I wanted to share this with you.:-)

(Taken from the Mennonite Weekley Review)

Each Advent we begin a new liturgical year, with its telling of stories familiar and new. We embark again upon a series of re-enactments, beginning with Christ’s first coming, God’s incarnation in the form of a child.
We participate in the paradox that by pretending certain events have not yet taken place, we will gain new, unexpected truths from the stories of how they came to be.

Advent holds further paradoxes as well, which we shall see as we wait for the Christ born in a manger in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago to be born again this year.
Each Advent we long for the Christ child. Women who have given birth remember the waiting, belly protruding, for the baby to come. Others recall the wonder of placing a hand on a round stomach and feeling the baby move inside the womb.

We wait for the joy of seeing the infant arrive, of holding the tiny child and feeling as never before how much we want to nurture this new life.
We know it will not be easy. The child whose arrival we await each Advent will not stay small and helpless. He will grow into a leader who demands of us more than nurture. He will require our whole lives.

It will be difficult to follow the way of this Savior whom John the Baptist heralds, yet it will bring joy. In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer asks, “If we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? … Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy.”
This joy is a paradox. It is what we ultimately seek, yet is not a comfortable feeling. It is not the glow of a fireplace or the warmth of a quilt.

Instead, it is dynamic contrast in Handel’s Messiah.
It is Mary’s emotion as she sang, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
We celebrate with Mary her child’s birth, and see the truth in the dramatic reversal of fortune she describes. Indeed, in past months we have seen some of the proud scattered in the thoughts of their hearts, and some of the rich sent away empty.

Yet there remain so many lowly ones yearning to be lifted up, and hungry ones crying out for good things.
Christ inaugurated God’s reign during his time on Earth. Yet we long for the time when it will break fully into our world so much in need of restoration.
Even on Christmas morning, we still wait for the day described in Rev. 11:15: “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. And he shall reign forever and ever.”
Each of our re-enactments of Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, prepares us for that day, when we can truly declare joy to the world.

Celeste Kennel-Shank
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