Thursday, January 05, 2006

Advent: Who's Fooling Whom?

Soren Kierkegaard sees something different yet in this series of meditations (Watch for the Light). He notes that in the Christmas story, wise men from the East (non-Jews) cross mountains and rivers to meet the Messiah while learned Jews who knew of the Messiah's coming barely show an interest.

Although the scribes could explain where the Messiah should be born, they remained quite unperturbed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek him. Similarly we may know the whole of Christianity, yet make no movement. The power that moved the heaven and earth leaves us completely unmoved.

...Who had more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor, or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge?

Imagine the surprise and confusion of the wise men to learn of the disinterest of the Jews. Soren closes by saying...

This is as bad as if a person knows all about Christ and his teachings, and his own life expresses the opposite. We are tempted to suppose that such a person wishes to fool us, unless we admit that he is only fooling himself.

It's worth a moment of thought to ask yourself if you might be one of these people.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Advent: When the Time is Fulfilled

We're in the home stretch of Advent now. Today, Eberhard Arnold looks at the verse in Luke that says..."the time was fulfilled for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first born, a son." Luke 2:5,6

The "fullness of time" is an interesting concept. I've often thought about it in terms of my starting a church. I wanted to start a church as early as twenty years ago but the time or conditions never seemed right. I had almost given up on the idea but then a few years back it looked like the time might be right. After five more years of waiting, it finally happened, and it's everything I had hoped for and more.

Arnold says we need to remember these things because there is always a temptation to doubt.

We work sometimes until we are weary and yet we see so little fruit. Does everything remain as it was? Haven't we gone forward at all? Have we really been able to help a little somewhere, or have we merely affected the surface of things? Where is the trace or glimpse of the goal we long for? What are all our efforts against the apparently indestructible powers of misery and evil?

Arnold says that at these moments of despair we need to remember that God is the one who brings things to fruition in his time and in his way.

Christmas did not come after a great mass of people had completed something good, or because of the successful result of any human effort. No, it came as a miracle, as the child that comes when his time is fulfilled ...

But to bring some balance, Arnold says that there is some degree of our involvement in God moving. Mary had to be willing to bear the child. It was her willingness that released the will of God. And so, in our lives, we can speed God's coming by our openess to humbly embrace his will for our lives.

For the miracle of God comes not only from above; it also comes through us; it is also dwelling in us.