Nov 30 2011

Advent reflection: God shares in our humanity

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

“…Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.”
(Mark 1:2)

There is an urgency in the Gospel of Mark that contrasts with the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Where those writers start with events surrounding Jesusí birth, Mark begins his account with John the Baptist setting the stage for Jesusí public ministry. John is one of the most vivid characters in Scripture.

As if his garb of camel skin and his penchant for eating locusts werenít memorable enough, his single-minded devotion to calling people to repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah sears him into our collective imagination.

This rough intensity makes John an interesting symbol for Advent.

While society likes to pretty-up this time of year with bright colors, warm thoughts and overindulgence on sentimentality, John reminds us that preparation for Christmas isnít just a feel-good exercise.

Repentance ó that is, ordering that which is disordered in our lives ó is also part of the equation.

John brings us back to the sobering reality that Godís entrance into the human family came at a price. We celebrate not so much because Jesus was born, but because that birth made possible all that would follow, including his redemptive suffering and death.

Yojana, CFCA sponsored child in Guatemala, and her brother Yunior

Yojana, CFCA sponsored child in Guatemala, and her brother Yunior. Jim Thomas, CFCA sponsor, took this picture on a mission awareness trip.

It behooves us, then, to pause a little before we dig into the merriment of the holidays, for that merriment has just a bit of falseness about it.

Suffering remains a part of the human condition, as does sin and death. And the peace and goodwill we like to sing about are distant dreams for many in the world.

But the news is truly good despite those realities. Our God dwells among us and walks beside us in the midst of our pain.

Our God shares in all that it means to be human, and shows us that we need not be enslaved by sin or paralyzed by fear. Our God has skin on.

Faith in that God with skin on is part of the fabric of CFCA. Following the example of Jesus, we strive to dwell in solidarity with the human family, and to help create space for others to join us.

In everything we do, the sacredness of human relationships keeps us grounded and gives us direction.

At CFCA, we live Advent the year round. Like John the Baptist, we want to help pave the way for the coming of Jesus.

Our particular way of doing that is to gently invite people to come to know the Christ who lives, and continues to suffer, in the poor and marginalized of the world.

As we continue to move toward Christmas ó that marvelous celebration of the God with skin on ó may each of us seek to follow the example of John the Baptist.

May we, like him, always point others toward Jesus and the Good News. May we have Johnís single-mindedness. May we have his courage.

The camel skin and locusts are optional.

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