A Contemplation for Advent
From the top of a mountain we can see the lay of the land. We see where we are in relation to where everything else is. Finding a place to stand to gain perspective is something we continually practice in the course of our day. Our stance allows us to determine how we are to order the space around us for which we are responsible.
How do we gain perspective in the course of time? When we place before ourselves an aim that hopefully we will achieve at some point in the future; that point in the future lends its perspective to us and allows us back here in the present moment to see from its heights. This borrowed perspective from the future gives us the means to determine in the present moment what we need to do in the pursuit of attaining our aim.
Even if we only thought of Advent as a preparation for Christmas this wouldn’t relieve us from its challenge as a festival of prophecy because to prepare Christmas is to take up the aim of the revelation of Christ. Which, succinctly put, is the content of the Christmas prayer. How do we as individuals align ourselves with the aim of Christmas? This is a question of Advent. What role do we each specifically play in the revelation of Christ?
We journey time after time upon the spiral of the Christian year with the great and distant aim of Christianity before us, namely: New Jerusalem. In the five Sundays that lead up to the first Advent Sunday this year we exclusively read from the Book of the Revelation to John culminating in its last two chapters. From there we will again read Luke 21 during Advent.
This great aim of Christianity, the holy marriage of the Lamb, amounts to a slow and gradual practice of marriage between who we are as when confined during a single ephemeral life and how we will eventually come to know and reveal ourselves as eternal individuals. There is much about who we are now that will not endure the drawing near of the Kingdom of God and that will be burned away by its revelation from within us out into the world.
Running parallel to the aim of Christianity is the aim of the adversarial powers, who want to create a new kingdom outside the kingdom of God, outshining its glory with the light of their own world. This is the aim as characterized in the Book of Revelation by the city of Babylon.
The Act of Consecration of Man teaches us how to practice this slow marriage with the divine. Not by turning our attention to what is weak, ill, selfish and evil in us but rather by turning our attention to and encouraging us to make an offering at the altar from out of what is most good in us. This offering is gratefully received at the altar and comes back to us during communion fructified, drenched in the golden divine light of the sun that it may then shine into the darkness of our souls and bodies and out into the world. The most radical position that we can take against evil is that we be for the good — our position defined not by what we are against but rather what we are for.
We are made ready to stand upright before the revelation of the Son of Man by The Act of Consecration; what is most good in us is there affirmed and receives strength.
- Rev. Hugh Thornton
The Christian Community Movement for Religious Renewal