God’s coming, the object of our expectation during Advent and the basis of our confidence in the year that follows, is always intrusive and disruptive. To Mary, Joseph, their families, the religious establishment, the political status quo, and to all who are open to divine visitation, it is not what they expect and often at first what they least want.
O, but who wouldn’t want God’s Kingdom—the perfect order of things, the only way a return to paradise is conceivable? Yet, God’s actual coming calls into question the sincerity with which human desire truly aspires to God’s Kingdom.
The fact is, it is God’s, not ours. And God’s is better than ours. But God’s Kingdom comes only God’s way. God’s better requires a suspension of human longing and conceiving and radical surrender to His way, until the Kingdom comes.
I am struck by how apt this is for understanding what it means to be church and then being that—namely, church. Nothing less than God’s coming (that’s what happened on the first Pentecost Day when church as such first came into being) will be required. And, nothing less than our utter abandon to whatever He wishes to do, however He wishes to do it, is required if we are indeed to be church! I have been praying, as follows:
Lord, help me to feel the disruptive impact of your visitation. Blow to “smithereens” the nice, neat arrangements that are merely facades for sinful compromise within myself and among those whose fellowship I enjoy. Forgive me, Lord, for assuming I am a special case, that if Mary, Joseph, Magi, Herod, scribes and teachers of the law could not simply “welcome” your coming, as in adding another plate to the table, but had to reconfigure the whole of life around the new thing you were doing—forgive me for assuming that your coming could mean something different for me, that I do not have the same choices to make!
Come, Lord Jesus, but not as another guest to my party, but as the One who embodies the party I know nothing about and who, lovingly and graciously, includes me. Show me how truly to party! Amen.