Chronicles in Ordinary Time 10: Advent

[“Adoration of the Magi” acrylic, inspired by a Norman Rockwell painting: ] Chris Tomlin: Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

Did you know that Jesus wasn’t a Christian?
He was a Jew. All of His followers were either Jews or were seeking something More for their lives. These believers were later called “Christians,” but they referred to themselves as “followers of the Way.”
He probably wasn’t born in the Winter.
The “Wise Men from the East” didn’t arrive at the stable and the manger. Jesus was probably around 2 years old, when the Wise Men arrived. After the Wise Men left Herod the King, having told him about the birth of the promised Messiah/King, Herod ordered the deaths of all of the male babies 2 years old and younger.
But it makes for a good story.
For today’s times, I prefer this Advent Allegory by Jonathan Gray:

The Emperor Constantine legalized/”officialized” Christianity in the 4th Century. The Church has been messed up, ever since, confusing the Way of Faith with the ways of commerce and politics.

When the Holy Roman Empire moved into northern Europe, the priests re-purposed  the ‘pagan’ religious winter festivals into Christian feast days, so that Christianity would be more palatable to the folk they found there. This is human nature. Parents do it with their children all the time.

My Christmases, when I was a child:
This was taken in the mid-1950’s. I’m the kid looking at my cousin, Carol [Sunny]. Not sure why I wasn’t looking at the camera. Sort of symbolic, in a way, I’ve always looked in directions the rest of the world doesn’t. I still have the bear on the floor in front of me. These days, with my messed-up peripheral sensory nerves, I miss flannel-lined jeans [my cousin Jim, on the right, is wearing a pair]. My cousins, Bruce and Wendy are between Jim and I.

My first Advent was in 1973. That’s the year that I learned that the Eternal and Infinite Master of the Universe had, at a point in history, entered Time and Space. Seemingly impossible, unless one is Omnipotent. In 1973 I realized that this event was sort of  similar to my lifting up a rock, and deciding to become one of those crawly things scurrying around, under the rock. Only on a Much Larger Scale…
For 30 or so years, the incarnate Eternal apparently didn’t do much that one might expect from the Creator of the Universe. Jesus did the same sort of stuff that we do. Our Creator knows what it feels like to be human. Our Creator knows our struggles. At the same time, our Creator knows that our time here on earth is like an eyeblink in the span of Eternity–the existence for which we are created.
For three or so years, Jesus did the sort of things that the Creator of the Universe might be expected to do, and as a result, the religious leaders of the day arranged for His crucifixion. They wanted Him gone; only He came back, and told His followers that death wasn’t The End, it was simply The New Beginning…

I try to live with the message of the incarnation in my life, every day, as much as I can. It’s a little harder at this time of year. So many people are madly involved in celebrating Something Else. When our children were small, we got more involved in “Christmas”–there is something magical about the expression on a child’s face, their belief in the ‘magic’ of the lights, the presents, the wonder of the whole thing. A shadow of what the shepherds might have felt when they were in the presence of angels.

I told our children about Saint Nicholas, the real bishop, whose story somehow got transformed into Santa Claus. One year, to my complete incomprehension, there really were parallel lines on our driveway, and little round spots mingled among the lines…I still can’t come up with a more plausible explanation than the impossible presence of a sleigh and reindeer.

Advent. The time that marks the coming of our Creator into the world, with a message of forgiveness. We don’t have to continually beat up on ourselves, or beat up on other people in order to make our lives work better. We are accepted, the way we are; all we need to do is live in that state of acceptance. We can also become better than we are, because our Creator’s Grace can live inside us. Not so that we can experience magic, but to create wonder.

And, like Malchus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, we can be healed.

A blessed winter time of celebration, to you all.

Peace, and good will toward you all. May the coming year be filled with Hope.


artist depression freelance illustration neuopathy pain persistence Advent holidays Christmas Jesus

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