Pastor's Musings

November 2022

IN IT TOGETHER
 

“Advent means ‘Coming,’ and the promise of Advent is that
what is coming is an unimaginable invasion – a close encounter
not of the third kind but of a different kind altogether.
An invasion of holiness. That is what Advent is all about.”
-Frederick Buechner

            In his book God is Closer Than You Think, John Ortberg wonders what it must have cost God to lay aside his divinity and come down to earth as a vulnerable, limited, and fragile human being. He tells a story from real life to show how incarnation is really the story of an amazing and hard to fathom love.

            “Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers. He moved to Kalawao, a village on the island of Molokai in Hawaii that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony. For sixteen years he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built two thousand coffins by hand so that when they died, they could be buried with dignity. Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die for Father Damien offered hope.

            “In an effort to be deliberately inclusive Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this the people loved him.

            “Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: ‘We lepers. . .’

            “Now he wasn’t just helping his flock. Now he was one of them. From this day forward he wasn’t just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.

            “One day God came to earth and began his message” ‘We lepers. . . .’ Now he wasn’t just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.

            “The story of incarnation is the story of Divine love. Many people didn’t recognize Jesus as God’s Beloved Child of course. They were looking for someone a little flashier. They expected more in the way of special effects, not someone who would take on all our limitations. Jesus came as an ordinary person (almost invisible). Many people saw him, but only a few recognized him. Those who missed him did not generally do so out of a lack of knowledge. What blinded them was pride.”

            In an Advent sermon from many years ago, Pastor John Stroman states: “Advent is an awesome experience of God getting in touch with human beings.” I like that description of the Advent Season. So often we think of Advent as a time when we get ourselves ready for the coming of Christ and the Festivities of the holidays. The problem with such a view is that it often blinds us to the reality of what God is already doing to prepare our hearts for His entry into the human experience.

            Would that we had the eyes and ears and inner sensitivity to perceive God’s activity in our lives every moment of the day, especially as we begin preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

           The season of Advent is a time to prepare, not for more hectic activity, but to remember the One who came to join in the adventure we call human existence. In Advent we take time to ponder the miracle that God actually assumed our humanity and was born and entered our world in order to make possible the life we’ve always dreamed of living.

            So while we will, no doubt, be caught up in all the frenzy and craziness of the holiday season, let us also take time in these next few weeks to prepare our hearts for the coming of the One who likes to surprise us by assuming humanity when we least expect it. There are a few truths in this world than can be more wonderful, more startling, more exciting than this!

 

A Blessed Advent to All,
Pastor Greg Kintzi




 
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