During this time of year, with Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, Finals, and all the other busyness that comes along with the holidays, I try to slow down and do something that makes me stop running, take a deep breath, and slow down at least for a few minutes each day. This year, I am trying to finish a book that I started last November, but just never finished. And I am glad I’m getting back to it!
The book is Living in the Spirit by Rachel Hosmer and Alan Jones. It was written back in the 1970’s as part of the Episcopal Church’s The Church’s Teaching Series, a collection of seven theological texts designed to deepen the Christian formation of Episcopalians as a new Book of Common Prayer was adopted.
As I was reading, these sentences popped out at me, “We [Christians] have given the impression that Christ needs a continuous introduction to his world, to his own creation! Christ does not need to be introduced, but to be proclaimed. He is not something to be added, something extra. He is present and active now, in every human being, Christian or non-Christian.”
In the age of declining Church numbers, Christmas culture wars, and the realignment of Christian denominations, we have lost sight of this reality completely. I fall into this trap, too. We continuously act as though the Christ needs a “Hello, my name is…” sticker and that we have to lead him around by the hand at the party of life, introducing him to all our friends he’s never met. Not at all! The very nature of the Christ, God made fully human, means that the Christ dwells in every human, in every body part, system, organ, cell, mind, and heart. Christ needs to introduction; Christ needs proclamation. Christ needs us to live transformed lives where all the world can see our response to the Living God dwelling in us.
As we go through the Advent and Christmas seasons this year, hearing the prophets’ call, following Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, or the Magi, depending on which Gospel we’re reading, instead of trying to introduce Christ to the world, let us proclaim Christ is word and deed. Let’s work toward a more just world. Let’s proclaim to the world that the connection between heaven and earth is not a one day per year event. Let’s live like Christ is present and active now. Let’s live like we mean the faith we proclaim.