The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Friday, December 25, 2015

Break in, God!

Christmas Day Reflection – 2015

For the last four weeks we have been preparing ourselves for this day: the Feast Day of the Nativity of our Lord.

I have been thinking about the word, time, lately. We have interesting expressions in the English language about time. We say such things as “in the nick of time,” or “just in time,” or “take your time,” and “everything in its time and place.”

In Western culture we are very conscious of time. Punctuality is valued and honored. Winston Churchill said about time, “If you are five minutes early, you wasted five minutes of your time. If you are five minutes late, you wasted five minutes of my time.”

In the first century of the Christian faith, the Greek language used two words to describe time: chronos and kairos. These two words describe two very different ideas about time.

Chronos is about chronological time; the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years that mark our lives. We are thinking of chronos when we plan events in our lives, births, anniversaries, or graduations. This the word used by St. Paul when he talks about the birth of Jesus:

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman,...”(Galatians 4:4).

All of the events of history had aligned themselves for this chronos moment: God coming as an infant born in a manger. God coming into human time and space. We cannot overplay the significance of this birth. God came into human form, born in a baby experiencing all of the human condition. Jesus’ life, ministry and death are God at work on our behalf. 

The truth of the the historical fact of Jesus’ presence on earth cannot be diluted or disregarded. The debate of the historicity of Jesus’ life on earth has endured for over 150 years. I encourage you to review this book by Chicago Tribune journalist, Lee Strobel, for a summary of the facts of Jesus’ coming: The Case for Christ.

The other Greek word for time, kairos, is much more interesting. Kairos is about breaking into chronos time, specifically, it means God has come into our human chronological moment and fulfilled God’s purpose.

While not used to describe the birth of Jesus, kairos is used to describe the ministry of Jesus particularly his death on the cross:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time” (I Timothy 2:5-6).

Today we are celebrating the breaking in (kairos) of God in the birth of Jesus into history (chronos). God crashed human history. 

God conquered the world with love!!!

God is still breaking into our world today. God is looking for people who are open for an in-breaking of Divine Love.

Let us open ourselves for God!

Ronald Friesen © 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

An Act of Radical Hope

Advent IV– Fourth Sunday of Advent

During my meditation for the Second Sunday of Advent, I commented on the current condition of millions of people who have been forced to leave their homelands to seek safety in other countries.

Part of the original story of Christmas, the infant, Jesus, becomes a refugee:

“When they (the wise men) had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”” (Matthew 2:13-15).

A few years ago I wrote a number of pieces on why Christmas is dangerous. Christmas is dangerous because the story challenges our commonly held prejudices. One of the prejudices currently circulating is refugees are dangerous people. “You know we can’t let those people into our country because they can’t be trusted.” Many of the people to perpetuate this prejudice will go to church this morning to worship Jesus the Refugee. If you worship Jesus the Refugee, how can you not open your hearts to your fellow humans who are refugees?

My friend, Bill, says that celebrating Advent is a counter-cultural act. I would say it is also treasonous. Followers of Jesus proclaim by their worship of the Babe they do not bow to a human leader or a national flag.

In five days, Christians will celebrate the Nativity of our Lord,  a refugee.

Think about it.

Ronald Friesen ©2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Spiritual Transformation...

I am currently reading Gerald G. May, The Dark Night of the Soul. Dr. May outlines spiritual transformation as described by St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

We are all born into this first stage: “love of self for one’s own sake.” If you have ever watched a child you recognize this stage. Children are all about “me, me, me.” As the child grows they learn that this way of living does not work at well. Some people never leave this stage.

Eventually, people realize that perhaps there is something greater than themselves in the world, maybe even a Higher Power. They move toward the second stage: “love of God for one’s own sake.” This stage can be still very self-centered. We worship God for what we can get. Many of the followers of Jesus were stuck in this stage during Jesus’ time on the earth. The writer of the Gospel of John notes that many people followed Jesus because of his miracles. Unfortunately, many people never move out of this stage. When they find their prayers are not answered as they want, they begin to move away from God not realizing that God is wanting them to move to the next stage.

When people realize that God is with them in their darkness, they move into the third stage: “love of God for God’s sake.” This stage is a beautiful transforming place because we fall in love with the Divine Lover.

As our love matures, we find ourselves embracing the fourth stage, “love of self for God’s sake.” We realize that we cannot add anything to gain God’s love; God’s love is completely unearned and undeserved. We call this, grace. We accept ourselves the way God accepts us.

Ronald Friesen © 2015