Advent Reflection

~ Brian Mitchell~

The Sunday immediately prior to Advent is what used to be called “Christ the King” and is now “updated” to “The Reign of Christ”. The readings for that day are Colossians 1: 15-20 & Luke 23: 33-43. As we enter Advent I ask myself who or what is this Christ? The image of kingship today is, obviously, anachronistic. There is no one God-king wielding unilateral power over humanity. Instead we have this Jesus – a man hanging from a cross. Who then is this “image of the unseen God” and what is its connection to Jesus’ life and death? What lies behind this magnificent cosmic hymn – this vision of all things gathered into Christ? I think that the starting point is to not ask ourselves whether or not we believe it. That won’t help. It’s just dualistic thinking. But here are a few things to consider.

This Christ, whatever it is, is contiguous with Jesus. If you look at Jesus you have the principle – and vice versa. It’s really not as complicated as we make it. All that we’re asked to do is to revel in the wonder. Open to the majesty. In the Kabbalah wonder is the highest state – residing, as it does, immediately above faith just as faith lies above reason. All we have to do is to say “Yes”. It’s really as simple as child’s play.

So who is this Christ, this “firstborn of all creation” through whom and for whom “all things were created”? Cynthia argues that it is two things: first a cosmic originating principle which offers us a fundamental pattern of coherence, of abundance, of relatedness; second, a reconciling principle, a connecting rod bringing into unity all things in heaven and on earth. So Christ is an archetypal title which includes us and all of creation. Christ is a quality of God, of capital “B” Being. The Christ Light animates everything inviting us to share in the ineffable divine Energy of Being, of Source, of God. Christ is that which speaks to the core of where we are headed as a human race, as a cosmos.

That’s all straightforward enough (although decidedly not decipherable with our rational minds). There is a real jump though (which is definitely not child’s play) – and that is affirming, unfolding and coming to know that the Christ lies, longing to be born, within each of us. Christ is in all of creation. Christ is in us. Christ is moving in us now. Remember Jesus saying: “The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these”? And “I am the vine and you are the branches”? We are much, much bigger than we think we are. We have the capacity to literally become expressions of God – to incarnate that upper octave of our Being into embodied form. Christ describes a dimension of consciousness in which we are deeply connected with the entire shimmering field of God.

Jesus wants us to recognize our oneness with him by embracing the Christ within. Can we call it “Christing”? – an ongoing journey of incarnating more of our divinity and evolving a more beautiful world? We’re all meant to be holy. We’re all called to be saints. We just have to want to be one. But to align with that energy we’ve got to do our work. And what is our work? Here are a few suggestions. They’re generally agreed to be the formative tools of transformation, for liberation from our small, egoic selves into putting on the mind of Christ. The first place where I notice the Christ Presence in myself is when I stay awake, pay attention; staying present to the moment. The Second Coming is happening in every moment. So look and listen to this moment – to that still small voice within – but without clutching at it, without clinging to it. When we cling to any moment, to any outcome, we destroy our relatedness with God. Stay open and hope enters. Relax; be gentle with yourself; laugh; slow down – think slow, move slow; work rhythmically; do one thing at a time; stay away from dualistic, either/or thinking; don’t block the flow – the eternal flow of increasing consciousness. And, of course, meditate. Every day we will go a little bit further. Being open to support from the communion of saints, from our ancestors and from the angelic realm also helps. As the Sufis say “As we walk towards Him He comes running towards us”. It’s all just attention and surrender.

As an aside (which isn’t really an aside) I’m beginning to think that it finally just might not matter how “far along” this path we get during our lifetimes. I’m betting that we’re going to get the opportunity to complete our individual journeys in some fashion in the next realm. So I’m telling myself : “No panic. Take your time. Go slow.”

Anyway it needs to be said that what connects the cross and Christ is, of course, Love -however you define it – God’s all-embracing creative, capital “L” Love; Love that is an energy and a movement that we can participate in. And it begins by allowing ourselves to be Loved – no matter how “unworthy” we may feel at any moment. The thorn of Love fastened Jesus to the cross and in his dying he pronounces forgiveness for all of our fallings down – forgiveness based on the lynchpins of his ministry: Love and self-emptying . So we are simply asked to accept Love and to Love everything and Love everybody as much as we can.

But Love, of course, is costly. It cost Jesus his life and it costs us as we do the work of our own self-emptying of the trappings of our small, egoic selves as we participate in God’s redemptive transformation of our own pain and suffering which God feels in God’s heart. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says “Only a suffering God can help”. And God has proven God’s willingness to suffer. Only a suffering God can save, can heal – both we humans and all of creation. God is in all things and all things are in God. There are no God-free zones. Our responsibility is to consciously partake in that suffering and in the healing. As Brother Laurence says: “As long as we are with God suffering is a paradise”.

Finally, speaking of paradise, the good thief Dismas asks Jesus to “Remember me when you come into your kingdom”. As we become more and more confident and more present to this present moment we begin to take on Christic energy, we become more Christ-ed. We begin to live in that “kingdom” here and now.

The ever-present Ground of Being is continually speaking our name. We simply have to have the courage to say “Yes”.

Rumi puts it this way:
you are the letter
written by God
you are the mirror
that reflects the divine
seek inside for
all you want is all you are
there is nothing above and beyond