I am not particularly complaining about the vulgarities of the marketplace prior to Christmas and I am certainly not talking about getting ‘back to God’ or ‘putting Christ back into Christmas’ (phrases that betray skepticism toward the Incarnation)….Tradition has rendered John the Baptist an Advent figure…’Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt. 3:2).
This plus other writings (McLaren) on the actual meaning of some of the loaded phrases like repent and Kingdom of heaven has me entering into advent in a new way. John calls people to ‘repent,’ to make ready for a radical turning, to turn around, to be washed, to become childlike and expectant, before the arrival of Jesus. How often have I been taught, and taught, that it is the coming of Jesus that brings the renewal. John’s announcement of Advent is to prepare the heart in advance for the arrival.
I am still unchurched, maybe I will stay that way. But, I have also become bitter as well as free. So many promises betrayed by a church proclaiming things it does not believe or practice (as in the first two posts above). But, I think it is far beyond proclaiming a culture we no longer live in. It is a gospel we no longer live. So many years of saying the Bible means exactly what it says and ignoring those who Jesus says are Him. So many years of proclaiming every verse that calls somebody else to be changed by the arrival of the Word, and ignoring those which could have freed ourselves. So, many excuses to be burnt out and give up.
I enter this advent listening to the call of John the Baptist. Time to prepare my heart for another turning, another awakening, a greater love, surprising new directions which require the abandonment of prior ideas of ‘correctness’ and self-righteous pride. Here is hope. I can be born yet again. We can be renewed again. The kingdom is even now preparing to blow the past away. I forsake my pride filled knowledge and surety and await the brilliant Light that already is.