As I listened to the collect for 4 Advent this morning, I found my mind sticking to the phrase that we pray Jesus, "... may find in us a mansion prepared for himself."
A mansion is a much different image than a manger with farm animals!
The whole idea of Advent is to prepare us for the re-entry of Christ into the world, or at least into the world of our Scripture and the church. Whether Christ arrives in the world as we know it in the day-to-day 21st century is more a matter for us and our willingness to let this Love we encounter in our churches be the guide for us in our every day living. It's easy to relegate this Love to an hour on Sunday mornings. Certainly, that's how I lived for years. God came down to be with us for an hour and fifteen minutes every week. The rest of the time, God was on a shelf somewhere and was unconcerned about the welfare of the world.
It's a very powerful Love that is coming. Even John the Baptizer warns it's the sort of Love that is bigger than anything he was doing. When this Love enters the picture, the ordinary and predictable becomes a wild and crazy ride. It is a persistent and patient Love that nudges and pokes and leads us toward justice... whether we want to go along or not. That is what this Love demands.
And it arrives in the form of a baby. A very human-looking baby born through the very human birth canal of a very human teenaged mother who ponders everything in her heart. A Love this extraordinary, so awesome that John tells everyone, "I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal" is just a very ordinary looking baby boy. I think that's the point of our Christian story. Christ shows up in the ordinary form to unleash an extraordinary, counter-cultural Love on the scene. Not through flashy shows of power and might. He does it through being and living in Love and out of Love for all he encounters. This is the expectation placed on all of us who pray the Nicene Creed. Today, we are the ordinary who carry in us the extraordinary ability to live and be as we have been taught by Christ.
The question is what kind of a mansion do we have to offer this Christ ? Is it one that is locked away in a gated community of "me, myself and I"? Is it one that locks the doors and windows so as to keep out any attempts to get to know us? Does it come with a vault where we store away all our belongings, valuables, money and a bomb shelter where we can be ready to survive "the end times"? Does it come with blinds and shutters so we don't have to see what is "out there" that might disturb and disquiet our peace of mind?
The thing is that if we actually allow Christ to be the resident in the mansion, the deadbolts and chains on the doors will come off. And no matter how many times we pull the blinds closed, they will be opened and we will not be allowed to hide out in this palatial dwelling of comfort and joy.
Christ came into the world... and comes into our mansion... not to destroy the peace, but to make it spread farther and farther beyond a finite point in time and space. We are the means to allow that peace to touch more lives and more places in this world of the 21st century. Unlock the doors and open the windows. Now is the time to let the light of Christ shine forth through each of us.
Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation in the church and Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.