Sunday, 16 December 2012

16th December 2012

When human beings communicate, words which are uttered (especially if they are similar sounding) take their meaning from context, emphasis, and pacing. If there were no pauses or silences between words it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to establish what is being said. Stillness and silence are therefore an essential part of making sense of life, thinking, speaking and finding meaning in everything.

In Advent, Christians wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. St John the Evangelist introduces his Gospel not with a birth story but with a declaration of the cosmic significance of his life. It expresses belief that this man is God come in human flesh, to share human existence and reconcile humankind with its creator, restoring awareness that everyone is a child of God. 

Jesus is here described as God's Word 'through him all things were made'. Word here is more than simply speech, it is thought expressed in action. The One who is beyond human knowledge, the God who 'hides Himself' is made known to us, as fully as we are able to comprehend, in this man Jesus.

We open up reach out in stillness and silence to the unknown beyond. From silence this Word which is Jesus is uttered. A man like ourselves becomes the focus of attention, a man who never ceases to point beyond himself, back to the unknown beyond which he confidently addresses as Abba (Daddy) Father.

Getting to know and love Jesus by reflecting and meditating on his story is not an end in itself. He not only invites us to find our true selves in relation to him as friend, Lord and master, saviour and redeemer, he also invites us to look with him to the unknown beyond with the same secure familiar intimacy as he does - calling God 'our Father in heaven'. Christian prayer addresses God as Father 'through Jesus Christ our Lord' for this reason.

The actions of Jesus' ministry distinguish him as a healer showing compassion to the sick and poor. He is one who restores the rejected and lost to their proper place in society. He confronts hypocrisy and injustice, speaks with wit, wisdom and depth about the things of God. Finally he offers his life freely and sacrificially to reveal the truth about God, and pardons those who take his life. In all these actions can be seen how "God so loved the world".

Through Jesus we are shown what it means to say "God is love. Those who dwell in love dwell in God, and God dwells in them." Digesting this fully is a lifelong effort. While we learn through doing, it's in the 'non-doing' of practicing stillness and silence that its meaning for us personally is understood. From this inner contemplation, the Advent of the Word is made real.

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