To be alive in the adventure of Jesus is to have a desire, a dream, a hope for the future. It is to translate that hope for the future into action in the present and to keep acting in light of it, no matter the disappointments, no matter the setbacks and delays. So let us begin this Advent season by lighting a candle for the prophets who proclaimed their hopes, desires, and dreams. Let us keep their flame glowing strong in our hearts, even now.
In this Advent season— this season of awaiting and pondering the coming of God in Christ— let us light a candle for Mary. And let us, in our own hearts, dare to believe the impossible by surrendering ourselves to God, courageously cooperating with God’s creative power— in us, for us, and through us. If we do, then we, like Mary, will become pregnant with holy aliveness.
To be alive in the adventure of Jesus is to face at every turn the destructive reality of violence. To be alive in the adventure of Jesus is to side with vulnerable children in defiance of the adults who see them as expendable. To walk the road with Jesus is to withhold consent and cooperation from the powerful, and to invest it instead with the vulnerable. It is to refuse to bow to all the Herods and all their ruthless regimes— and to reserve our loyalty for a better king and a better kingdom.
So let us light a candle for surprising people like the women of the ancestor lists and the shepherds of the ancient world, and for their counterparts today— all who are marginalized, dispossessed, vulnerable, hungry for good nutrition, thirsty for drinkable water, desperate to know they are not forgotten. Let us join them in their vigil of hope— waiting for good news of great joy for all people, all people, all people.
So let us light a candle for the Christ child, for the infant Jesus, the Word made flesh. Let our hearts glow with that light that was in him, so that we become candles through which his light shines still. For Christmas is a process as well as an event. Your heart and mine can become the little town, the stable, the manger… even now. Let a new day, a new creation, a new you, and new me, begin. Let there be light.
Gift-giving, it turns out, was at the heart of all Jesus would say and do. God is like a parent, Jesus would teach, who loves to shower sons and daughters with good gifts. The kingdom or commonwealth of God that Jesus constantly proclaimed was characterized by an abundant, gracious, extravagant economy of grace, of generosity, of gift-giving. “It is better to give than to receive,” Jesus taught, and his followers came to understand Jesus himself as a gift expressing God’s love to the whole world.
Jesus [came] of age and stepped onto the stage: a man with a dovelike spirit, a man with the gentleness of a lamb, a man of peace whose identity was rooted in this profound reality: God’s beloved child. When we awaken within that deep relationship of mutual love and pleasure, we are ready to join in God’s peace movement today— an adventure of protest, hope, and creative, nonviolent, world-transforming change.
To be alive in the adventure of Jesus is to hear that challenging good news today, and to receive that thrilling invitation to follow him… and to take the first intrepid step on the road as a disciple.
Perhaps a miracle story is meant to shake up our normal assumptions, inspire our imagination about the present and the future, and make it possible for us to see something we couldn’t see before… Perhaps, by challenging us to consider impossible possibilities, these stories can stretch our imagination, and in so doing, can empower us to play a catalytic role in co-creating new possibilities for the world of tomorrow.
To be alive in the adventure of Jesus is to stand with the multitudes, even if doing so means being marginalized, criticized, and misunderstood right along with them.
Violence cannot defeat violence. Hate cannot defeat hate. Fear cannot defeat fear. Domination cannot defeat domination. God’s way is different. God must achieve victory through defeat, glory through shame, strength through weakness, leadership through servanthood, and life through death.