Advent and Disruptive Events

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14

advent |ˈadˌvent|

  • noun [in sing. ]
  • the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event : the advent of television.
  • • ( Advent) the first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
  • • ( Advent) Christian Theology the coming or second coming of Christ.
  • ORIGIN Old English , from Latin adventus arrival, from advenire, from ad- to + venire come.

There are things that disrupt the way we live, relate or work. The arrival of new things are disruptive. The advent of the telegraph. This ushered in long distance communication while shortening the time that was needed for the travel of the message. Then came the radio. We no longer had to run wires to communicate long distance. Then we developed television. Now we could send information, audio and video. The arrival of these things is disruptive because it fundamentally changes the nature and mode of long distance communication.

John uses this same analogy of communication or “word” to give us an abstract illustration about the nature of Jesus’ advent and His incarnation. Advent has forever changed our mode and way of understanding and relating to God. What was veiled in metaphor and symbol. What was prophets of old communicating far off oracles has now changed. In a small stable of Bethlehem the very author writes himself into the story. His advent is the most disruptive event in the history of the universe. The Author has become the Word in his very own story. Let advent be the disruptive event God designed it to be.

“…My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of his presence? The incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins. And most are ‘offended’ by the iconoclasm; and blessed are those who are not” – CS Lewis in “A Grief Observed”

Slippery Slopes

Psalm 94

Have you ever sung that song where the line goes, “When the world’s “all as it should be, Blessed be Your name.” This is definitely not one of those songs.

For the salmist the world is not running the way it should be. In fact it is running diametrically opposed to the way many of us think the world should run. Here the psalmist is honest enough to pray his emotions. He feels angry about his situation. Even in the midst of his anguish the Psalmist appeals to dual concepts of a Just Judge and God of Vengeance (seen in Deut. 32:35; Gen. 18:25).

Psa. 94:1 O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Psa. 94:2 Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!

Often when we hear the terms vengeance and wrath we feel that this cannot reconcile with the way we think the world should run, let alone how God should operate.

God’s love and his wrath are intrinsically linked; any de-coupling of these two concepts makes him less than loving and less than just.  If we simply look at the human analogy of a loving relationship between a father and an alcoholic son.  The more a father loves a son, the more this said father will be opposed to the drink and the lying that is destroying his son.  In fact we would think the father to be unloving if he were not diametrically opposed and even upset at that which was destroying his son.

The Psalm then ends showing us how God often allows his divine displeasure to come forth. It is actually one of the most loving things he can do. Ultimately he will not force a people to love him who choose to hate. The Psalmist describes this divine displeasure as “passive wrath.” The Lord chooses to allow the proud and the unloving to fall into the very pits they have dug for themselves(v13). Even the Psalmist saw his own heart headed in this same slippery direction (v.18). But God intervened and rescued him and prevented his foot from slipping.

CS Lewis put it brilliantly when he said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened. ”