On the night of Christ’s birth, there was no room in the inn for Joseph and Mary. As a result, Jesus was forced to be born in a messy stable. During Advent, He desires once again to be born into the messiness of our lives. Christ desires to be present in us. He also desires to be present in others. Can others see His presence in us, and do we recognize His presence in them? What would the world be like if we did? I invite you to read more…
Advent is a time set aside to reflect on three things. First, Jesus has already come into the world. Second, Jesus is coming again at the end of time. Finally, Jesus wants to be present in each of us today! This third aspect of Advent is the focus of today’s message.
It seems to me that the word Advent is often mischaracterized. We frequently only associate the word Advent with the future expectation of Christ’s second coming. We see Advent only as a time of longing. More accurately translated, Advent means presence or arrival.
Advent comes to us as the Latin translation of the Greek word parousia. Parousia is an ancient word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit. As far back as 300 BC, and up until the second century, “parousia” was used in the East as an expression to denote the arrival or visit or physical presence of a king or emperor and celebrated the glory of the sovereign publicly. The term parousia occurs many times in both the Old and New Testament. It was used both to describe the physical arrival of individuals within the Bible and to describe the Second Coming of Christ.
It sometimes appears that far more attention is given during Advent to reflecting on Christ’s birth and His second coming in the future. We must not forget that Christ wants to have a presence in our life today. We should ask ourselves these questions. Have I made room for Christ in the inn of my heart? Do I see the presence of Christ in those I interact with every day?
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God want to be present in us.
- 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
- Romans 8:10 “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
- 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?”
- Galatians 2:20 “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”
- Colossians 1:27 “it is Christ in you”
During Advent we should contemplate the reality that God’s presence in the world has already begun. He is present now, albeit in a somewhat hidden manner. His presence in the world has begun, but it is not yet complete. We are still in a time of development, a time of progressing forward until Christ comes again.
Until Christ comes again, He wishes to be present in us now. In Matthew 22:37-39, our Lord commands each of us to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is through our faith, hope and love that God wants to shine His light into the messiness of humanity. Each time we allow room in our life for Christ’s presence, the Word once again becomes flesh. When we acknowledge Christ’s presence in us, and live according to His teachings, the Christ child is once again born into our world. Christ becomes present each time we meet and treat others with true authentic Christlike love.
1 John 4:12 tells us, “No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.” Seeing Christ in others can at times be challenging, but if we are honest, others probably struggle to see Christ in us sometimes. If we would all take time to look beyond each other’s weaknesses and faults and stop focusing on everyone’s negative attributes, we could then focus on seeing God’s presence in each other. Imagine what the world would be like if we all did this.
Catholics have a tradition of genuflecting towards the tabernacle in the church because they believe that Jesus is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Holy Eucharist contained therein. It’s a common practice for Hindus and people who practice Yoga to greet each other with the greeting “Namaste”. Namaste literally means “bow me to you.” It is used as a sign of respect for the good that resides in another person.
I am not suggesting that we, as Christians, need to greet each other with the Namaste, nor am I suggesting that we should genuflect to one another. I am, however, suggesting that we pause during Advent to reflect on how different the world would be if we truly respected the presence of God in everyone we meet.
During the remainder of this Advent Season, let’s recommit ourselves to make Christ more present in our daily life and let’s double down on our efforts to see God’s presence in everyone else. I assure you that the world will be a better place if we do these things.
Heavenly Father, there was no room for your Son to be born in an inn on that first Christmas morn. Help me today to make room for Him to be born again in my heart and help me to see His presence in others. Amen!
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