I like to think that I am a man of words. In fact, that is kind of how I make my living. Perhaps I don’t always choose the best words but I like to consider myself a student of how they can transform existence and even people sometimes. And now we find ourselves in one of the most amazing seasons of the Julian and Christian calendars….Advent. A season to anticipate and look forward to the coming of Christ, but also to reflect on his having come as God with us. So being a student of words I like to do comparisons and contrasts at times and I can’t help but link the word advent to the word adventure (after all it is the word’s root)…a word that implies risk, excitement or even danger. If you even break down the words into their appropriate pieces you have advent – coming and ure – action. You can see how that is kind of fun, right? (okay maybe I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to words).
But let’s put it into it’s proper context. The original Advent, or coming of God into flesh, was an amazing adventure on the part of God. The Incarnation can even be thought of as a a huge risk. God comes into the world and places his own well being into our hands. He even trusts a young unwed girl to be his mother and his chief care-taker. Sounds pretty risky to me. Not only that, but he then grows up and starts hanging out with outcasts, sinners, drunks, prostitutes, tax collectors and all the dregs of society. Talk about the ultimate thrill seeker. And it didn’t even pan out so well. Paul put it this way in Philippians 2:7-8 “…rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” So by embracing the adventure of Incarnation God ultimately places his life in human hands realizing that it would result in an untimely death (Of course we realize that it was held together by the hope of resurrection).
And so we come to this season of Advent and we realize that the call of Christ must become our call as well. We have been given the task of becoming incarnational (I realize it is not really a word) to those whom Christ would be present with. It may not be the people we would choose to associate with, but it is those to whom Jesus longs for us to be with. The burnout, the outcast, the forsaken, the estranged, the hurting, the broken, those alienated by the church, and the people who ultimately are nothing like us. I mean think about how different we were from Jesus being made to be like us. And becoming incarnational (again, I know its not a word…at least according to spell check, but it is a church word) may not always have a good outcome i.e. the cross. But we have hope beyond this life and so we really have no excuse.
May you find a way to be incarnational this Advent season and truly embrace the adventure of becoming God en-fleshed to someone who desperately needs to see Jesus.