Advent Migration: Are We There Yet?

There are many dimensions to the theme of migration.  As we approach the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we want to think about what Jesus asks of us in terms of migration.  Through his life and his ministry, Jesus invites people to follow him.  This is not just a literal following, walk with him.  It is also a figurative following.  Live by the values he teaches.  Follow his way of loving all people, even enemies.  Forgive.  We can stay where we are physically and still have a long way to go in following Jesus.  

The way of Jesus was a radical departure from most of the thinking and values of his day.  And the Jesus way is still a radical departure today from the values and lifestyle of current western society.  So while we may migrate physically from one place to another, and while our bodies change over the course of the life span, the most significant migration we make may be in our thinking.

Migrating toward Jesus may mean drastic changes to our values, our attitudes, and our assumptions – about money, about people, about guns, about sex, about food, and about MANY other things!   

Jesus is showing us how to see ourselves and the world in a fundamentally new way.  As we think about coming to the end of our advent migration this year, it is a time to think about what changes we need to make in our thinking and in our behavior so that we migrate ever closer to Jesus and his way of unconditional, universal love for all people and for Creation.   

Prayer:  

Seeking to live and flourish, may we make our way toward Jesus this Advent season.  Amen.  

Advent Migration: Surrender

As we consider the theme of migration, while we make our migration through life and while we think of the physical migrations that we make, we recognize that as with any journey, migration involves the unknown.  While we may think we are certain about our intent or direction there is always the unknown when we head into new territory, literally or figuratively.  

This past summer, we hiked the West Highland Way in Scotland.  We had three guide books and read those as well as various internet sites about the walk.  And then there was the day that actually turned out to be 18 miles long, constantly going up and down, most of the way with a steep drop into Loch Lomond.  It sounds treacherous and perilous.  And it was.  But none of the guidebooks gave any indication of the true nature of that portion of the hike.  

So, as much as we do to inform ourselves and take responsibility for our path, there is still the unknown.  So any kind of migration or journey necessarily involves surrender.  Migration toward life means accepting the unknown and accepting that you cannot control everything about how the way will emerge and unfold.  

This lack of control, this facing the uncomfortable unknown, may lead many of us to simply want to stay home with a blanket over our heads!  But that has its dangers, too.  Life lost, given up, forfeited.  No joy.  No delight.  

The Christmas stories with all of their journeys are stories of venturing into the unknown.  Mary saying yes to the angel Gabriel.  Mary and Joseph making their way to Bethlehem.  The shepherds leaving the fields to head into town where they may be ridiculed and scorned.  The magi journeying over countries and cultures to an unknown destination.  Migration is a mysterious venture involving risk.  Along the way, there is the learning to trust – what is good, what is right, and what is true.  And there is learning to depend on others and accept help from others.  Thankfully there are messages of comfort and joy along the way as well!

Prayer:  

Seeking to live and flourish, may we make our way toward Divine Love this Advent season.  Amen.  

Advent Migration: The Wise Ones

In the gospel of Matthew we are told of astrologers from the “east” making their way to Jesus guided by a star.  This is a way of conveying that Jesus is of importance not only to one tribe or one religion or one place but that he is of importance to all of the world.  The story of the magi also brings to the fore the political dimensions of the birth of Jesus.  Jesus is a figure to recognized by all of the world.  Hm.  At that time, this kind of impact was reserved for the Roman Caesar and his minions alone.  So the story of the magi also sets up the clash of empires that will characterize the life and ministry of Jesus and will eventually end in his being killed as a threat to the Roman Empire.  

Sometimes as we make our migration through life, we are caught up in our day to day circumstances.  We may not have the energy or inclination to pay attention to wider themes and a broader context.  The story of the magi, making a journey of months if not years and encountering conflict with King Herod, reminds us that we live our lives as part of a broader narrative.  We, too, make decisions and choices that have implications for months and years.  We, too, are part of social structures that are influencing the kind of world that we live in.  

While in some ways, our migration through life is very personal and individual, we are also reminded that we are making our migration through life in a social, political context that is influencing the nature of our journey.  And we are also influencing the context around us.  

A migration to the manger reminds us that we are to stand against injustice and violence and we are to influence the society around us in ways that create peace and beloved community.  Jesus is for the world.  And as his followers, we are to influence the world infusing our context with the commonwealth of Divine Love and living into an alternative reality.  

The gospel of John tells us that Jesus came because, “God so loved the world.”  May we also love that world, all of it!

Prayer:  

Seeking to live and flourish, may we make our way toward Divine Love this Advent season.  Amen.  

Advent Migration: The Shepherds

In the story of the birth of Jesus in the gospel of Luke, we are told of shepherds who are watching their sheep at night when an angel appears telling them to go to Bethlehem and see the special babe that has been born.  Shepherds were of a very low socio-economic class in that time.  They were certainly not accustomed to being favored by God with special tidings of great joy to all people.  Yet the sincerity of the message is validated by its delivery to the shepherds.  This birth is indeed good news for ALL people, even lowly shepherds.  Maybe especially lowly shepherds!  

Unaccustomed to such invitations, the story tells us that the shepherds leave the sheep and go to Bethlehem to see about what the angel has foretold.  And it is all just as the angel declared.  The babe, wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger in a barn.  The shepherds, not used to anyone paying positive attention to them, especially an angelic host, have been given a heads up on a very important matter. 

It is also just as the angel said that this child would bring good news to all people.  In Jesus’ teaching and ministry, he does bring good news great joy to all, if they will hear it.  And this good news is especially welcomed by those made poor.  Jesus honors the dignity of each and every person.  He encourages creating relationships and community that is just and in which each person is valued.  With Jesus, the commonwealth of God is made real and no one is made poor.  

As we think about our migration toward Jesus and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, this is a time to think about how our orientation toward Jesus is inviting us to create relationships and a society where no one is made poor.  Christmas is a time of year where there is much giving to charity to help people and to see that families have a Christmas dinner and children receive a toy.  But the good news of great joy to all people is a society in which no one is made poor.  There is no need for the massive charity efforts made at Christmas because everyone has access to what they need, not only at Christmas but all year round.  

Helping serve Christmas dinner to homeless people is an act of compassion and love.  But creating a world where no one is homeless or hungry is truly good news of great joy to all people.  And we, living in the richest society ever, certainly have the capacity to do this!

Prayer:  

Seeking to live and flourish, may we make our way toward Jesus this Advent season.  Amen.