Colossians 2:6-7 (New Revised Standard Version)
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Silent night, holy night. This weekend we began the season of Advent, the four weeks leading up Christmas.
A season of grace, of joy.
A season of thanksgiving and love and peace.
But it can be hard to find, can’t it?
As the weeks toward Christmas tick down, you may be facing end-of-the-year deadlines at work. There will be more and more traffic on the roads. If you have kids, there are a million and five things for them to do before Christmas break. Stores will be filled with frantic people looking for that perfect gift, or, let’s face it, as time goes by just any gift.
Then you come home to turn on the news, only to hear about another shooting, another threat, another area of unrest and danger. Around the world, and right in your community.
I’ve talked with several people recently about how tempted they are to just “hunker down” right now. And I can certainly understand why, when the world feels so uncertain, we have this urge to close our eyes tightly and self-protect. To close out the world, and retreat to a safe place away from the chaos around us.
And this is the first time in recorded history where it is actually possible to live without having a direct, meaningful interaction with another human being.
You can order your Christmas presents from online retailers, have them wrapped and sent with a card directly to the recipient of your choice. No trudging through stores, no waiting in long post office lines, no having to stand face-to-face with that annoying relative (you know the one I’m talking about!) as you hand over a present and receive yours.
You can shop for groceries and have them left on your front porch at a scheduled time. You can consult with a physician, a tax attorney, a counselor — all from the comfort of your favorite chair. You can purchase clothing online, and, after it arrives, if it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it, just send it back, no problem.
On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can have dozens, hundreds, even thousands of friends, none of whom you actually have to interact with. You can even be “friends” with the people you see on your television or computer, or, at a minimum, you can follow their feeds online.
You can have heated political or religious debates online, without dealing with the relational repercussions. You can date online, take classes and get degrees, buy a home.
[You can, I’m sorry to admit it, even attend church online.]
I’m not the first or the last to note that this overconnected technological culture of convenience has led to a deep disconnectedness in our lives.
But, if there is anywhere in our world where that kind of disconnectedness has NO PLACE, it is the church. And that is infinitely more so at Christmastime. The community of people who follow Christ can show the world what it is means to be connected, relational, to be real.
Our Advent sermon series this year at Aldersgate is called “incarnate.”
adjective: embodied in flesh; in human form
verb: to embody or represent in human form; to make concrete an idea or abstract concept; to be the living embodiment of a quality or ideal
The story of Christmas is a story of the incarnation. It is the story of a God who loves us so much, that God made the irrevocable, game-changing decision to enter directly into creation. To live as a human being, to teach and to heal. To touch and to comfort. To explain and demonstrate God’s love and to bring hope and grace and light to a dark and fearful world.
Christianity is meant to be deeply grounded in life. It is meant to change us, to challenge us, to push us out into the world, practicing our faith in passionate, practical, meaningful ways. To teach and to heal. To touch and to comfort. To explain and demonstrate God’s love. To bring hope and grace and light to a dark and fearful world.
We are meant to be God’s love. Incarnate.
In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at what this means!