27 November 2005

First Sunday of Advent

Several days ago, upon awakening, I had one of those moments of mental clarity in which some puzzle or problem is suddenly solved. In that dawn moment, I realized I am prone to think of God as separate from me. I have perceived Him as sometimes unloving, or merely indifferent. I suddenly saw clearly how utterly wrong I was, and how foreign that notion is even to logic. God made me. He holds me together in thought. He never wants me to be apart from Him! If he forgot me, I would cease to exist!

The feeling of separateness was banished in that moment. I went out to my study, and looked up the first reading in the devotional I use, and was overtaken by that I-am-floored-but-unsurprised feeling I get when God makes it perfectly clear He has A Point to make, and Would I Please Pay Attention. The passage was from Colossians, and included these verses:
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation--if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Col. 1:21-23)
God has not forgotten me. God does not want to lose me or be parted from me. I am a sinner, and cannot be admitted to His presence, because He is all-holy. So He sent his Son to teach me the right way. That Son underwent a horrible death, taking my sins on Himself, just so I would not lose touch with my God so long as I continue in my faith.

I am still mentally, spiritually, sitting there, days and days later, my mouth agape and my heart stilled in awe.

It felt like an Advent present from Jesus, a gift to open before the Christmas madness.

Of course there's more ... later in that epistle, Paul writes:
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
I have a choice whether to "wear" those traits every day, and which to accentuate and accessorize with the others. ;) Then, just in case I was thick and didn't get the previous word, he speaks slowly and uses simple words: "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." I can't avoid knowing that, yes, the Lord forgave me, but not because I repented really well or apologized perfectly. In fact, I'm willing to bet that a lot of the worst sins were some which I never even realized I committed! The Lord forgave me solely because Jesus asked Him to, on the cross, brokenly whispering the words through his extreme pain and desolation.

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." And which binds me to God, close under His wings, safe from the one who prowls like a lion, whispering to me and so many others, "He doesn't really love you. He doesn't care." It's a lie!

Jesus hovers around, eager and waiting. He doesn't force His way in, but He waits and watches for the moment when we're open to His love.

This Advent season, I hope I will be waiting and watching for Him, too.

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