From the Deacon’s Bench - Advent Meditation
For the last several years, I read from a book of Advent meditations based on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings beginning with the first of Advent. I would like to share something with you from that. But first I wanted to share that I have a second book of meditations this year, a book of Celtic Advent devotions. I didn’t realize that in the ancient Celtic Christian Church, Advent started on November 15th. For the Celtic Church, Advent was 40 days in the same way that Lent was 40 days. The first 5 days focused on Advent preparations, followed by 10 days focussed on the Incarnation. Then 10 days on the “second coming” of Christ, which was to them the coming of Christ into us and guiding what we do. The next 10 days was the “third coming” of Christ, as set out in the Book of Revelation. Finally the last 5 days were all about the Christmas feast and holidays. Since this is the first year I have this book, I will have to see if there is something I could share next year.
But returning to Bonhoeffer, I want to share this excerpt which is meant to be read on the first day of Advent. “Jesus stands at the door knocking. In total reality, he comes in the form of a beggar, of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbour, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes demands on you. That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us. Do you want to close the door or open it?”
Are we a church that opens the door, or do we close the door? Do we welcome Jesus in all who show up at our doors? Have we prepared sufficiently that we are ready when we are called upon? What is it we have been called upon, or might we be called upon to do? During this time of prayer and meditation leading up to the celebration of Christmas, between the shopping and the festivities and the preparations for the holidays, let’s find some time to contemplate what Jesus calls us to do. Particularly this year when the Holy Land is suffering from the violence of war, how are we called to be peacemakers? How do we raise God’s demands to protect the weak and the vulnerable, keeping in mind how vulnerable the baby Jesus had been? Do you hear the knocking at the door?