Friday, November 29, 2013

Advent - Who is the Christ we expect "will come again"?

Who is the Christ we expect “will come again”?
Jennifer Phillips

After reading Amy McCreath’s blog post, “The advent of Advent,” I found myself saying, “Amen!”

After a vey busy Fall with fundraisers, worries about a new roof, big public events, etc., I have called the congregation I serve to keep a quiet Advent season, right up until Christmas, with no big events save the Holiday play which will take place on December 8th.  I’m asking us to take a break in our dense education schedule, encouraging people to center and be quiet and pray - having already suggested that people get their Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving and rest and play with dear ones for the holidays. I find having nearly everything done by the First Sunday of Advent really helps mark the transition.

I am ruminating this year on how it is that, having had Jesus as an ikon of the invisible God and a ruler in powerlessness and self-emptying, we have simply moved all our expectations and desires for a powerful, army-leading, world-conquering Messiah forward in time to the eschaton.

What does the Holy One have to do to persuade us that the divine reign is not and will not be like that? At least I don't think so.

Are we any different than those folks on the road to Emmaus saying "…and we thought he would be the one to save Israel," unable to see the Presence most of the journey?

Here's the crass simile: If you saw those Twilight movies and read the books (a small subset of you, I know, will admit to this), despite the literary ending in which the great final battle is averted (by a mutual assured destruction), the film manages to include the great final battle scene anyway, by a little twist of plot. (If you missed Twilight, try James Bond - same endings.) Hollywood - and we - cannot imagine a dark and light confrontation that doesn't end in carnage, massive destruction, and conquest by force.

Into the world of such expectations, God chooses to enter as a baby, an itinerant healer/preacher, a humiliated and executed criminal. It seems we are still looking for a super-Caesar.

Jennifer M. Phillips, a past member of APLM Council and former editor of Open, is a presbyter serving as Rector of St. Francis Church, Rio Rancho, NM.
The author of many published articles, prayers and poems, Jennifer is the author of Preaching Creation and Prayers for Penitents from Cowley Publications. She edited Ambassadors for God: Envisioning Reconciliation Rites for the 21st Century (Liturgical Studies Series, 5) from CPI.

She has served on the Standing Commission for Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church.

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