The Light of Christ
The final advent candle, the one in the center is the Christ candle. It sits in the center, because the light from the others originate in this one. I would like to share some reflections on Jesus. My intention is that my words will not only help you celebrate the Advent season better and deeper, but live the season in your heart now and later.
Jesus is a unique person in the history of mankind. There has and never will be another like him. No other single person has meant what he does and has affected our world in such a deep way. This is the season we celebrate and remember Jesus’ first coming, wondering and waiting for his second coming. Exhilaration and expectation define of this season. Hope, love, and peace are direct consequences of this season. We remember and praise the birth of a homeless babe in a manger through this single birth it is proclaimed peace on earth and goodwill to all. Jesus, the homeless preacher and healer brought to the world eternal life and told stories about what life is really all about. We expect the return of Jesus and the hope that good will triumph and that love does have the last word. Christmas is saying that goodness, love, grace, and joy are what really matters. When we celebrate Christmas and light the advent candles, we are putting our trust and our entire beings in the story that God is telling.
Let’s hear what a few people have said about Jesus.
Mahatma Gandhi: A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.
Historian Kenneth Scott LaTourette: As the centuries pass, the evidence is accumulating that Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet.
H.G. Wells: I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.
Of all the great leaders of history, Jesus stands out alone unique. God intervened decisively in human history in Jesus and nothing is the same. We can deny or accept, but no one can ignore Jesus. Jesus is different. Jesus preached a new message, a new commandment of how we should live love one another, he said. He hands out grace like candy. He includes all. He loves where there is hate. He is radically different from all the philosophers and religious leaders of the past and present. He didn’t give a detailed plan of how we can earn our way back to God, but said, “God loves you. Let me show you how much.” Then, he went about showing through his actions and his dying on a cross how much God loves us in spite of ourselves. What Jesus did was present and manifest God in such a deeply authentic way that when one saw Jesus they experienced the divine. To experience Jesus was and is to experience God. He lived his message, accepting and forgiving the most despised sinners. He faced familiar human struggles, yet remained compassionate never once backing down
from his commandment to love everyone. Finally, through the ultimate act of love He gave his life for the sake of others. For Jesus this was not a one-time gift but a continual, renewable gift for all who trust in him.
Jesus called and welcomed everyone, even the worst of sinners. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29) Jesus didn’t ask that people clean up their act or perfect themselves before they could approach him. He didn’t ask that you say a magical prayer. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
Jesus calls all to come to him to come and see who He really is. Jesus doesn’t put any barriers between him and those who want to follow him. Jesus wants to save us from all the things that inhibit us from living the kind of life he lived. Jesus shatters all ideas, agendas, concepts, and human formula and simply says come and see. We will be shocked and delighted, comforted and discomforted, with what we find when we see the real Jesus, the Jesus of the gospels.
So, throughout this season when we spent time with loved ones, looked at the pretty lights, sang carols, watched new and classic holiday films, worshiped with our church family, read the bible and reflections on the Christmas story, and shared our thoughts on the season it was Jesus we were being pointed to and were pointing towards. Jesus stands at the center of this season and history itself and beckons us to come and see that God is good.
As we go into the New Year, let us stay centered on Jesus. There are concrete things we can do, such as treating others as we would like to be treated. We need to not only think or worry of what we are going to do, because it’s not really about doing as it is living by grace. If we step out in faith, God will meet us there and great things will happen. If we start living our faith, we can make a difference.
Jesus wants us, all of us to live in His light as the light of the world. He wants to shine forth as children do. I will leave you with the wonderful words of my favorite theologian, Robert Farrar Capon.
Trust Him. And when you have done that, you are living the life of grace. No matter what happens to you in the course of that trusting, no matter how much heaviness and sadness your lapses, vices, indispositions, and bratty whining may cause you—you simply believe that Somebody Else, by His death and resurrection, has made it all right, and you just say thank you and shut up. The whole slop closet full of mildewed performances (which is all you have to offer) is simply your death; it is Jesus who is your life. If He refused to condemn you because your works were rotten, He certainly isn’t going to flunk you because your faith isn’t so hot. You can fail utterly, therefore, and still live the life of grace. You can fold up spiritually, morally, or intellectually and still be safe. Because at the very worst, all you can be is dead – and for Him who is the Resurrection and the Life that just makes you His cup of tea.
Grace and Peace