During these days, we are living with expectation of Christmas. Advent is the season of expectation: We wait for the Savior and Redeemer. We also wait for God’s solution to our situation and sometimes we get frustrated when we see that things around us do not improve for the better. The level of frustration is higher when we see that the expectations about Christmas are reduced to a commercial marathon of shopping and meals.
If we look at the scenario of this 2014 Advent Season especially in our country and our church, our sense of frustration may be increased.
In our country we have changed the common good by common political agendas; we have confused justice with law; we have changed civil dialogue by threatening and confrontations; we have confused the right to express our opinions with the actions to silence other’s opinions; we have confused peace with absence of violence; we have confused equality with uniformity and we have reduced liberty to my liberty.
In our church we have confused the church with the Kingdom; we have emphasized on the newest option of the market more than on the birth of Jesus Christ; we have over-dimensioned the importance of policies and regulations in comparison with the learning experiences; we have prioritized the order over the mission; and we have confused forgiveness with a license to continue sinning. We have identified the Bible with theological argumentations, faith with denominational loyalty, and what I believe with the true gospel.
This picture do not look attractive and probably is the opposite of what the Advent and Christmas seasons symbolize. My challenge was, how to respond to this situation? What is the Christmas message I want to share with my brothers and sisters in Tres Rios Presbytery?
Looking for answers I found this small sentence from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous German theologian assassinated by the Nazi regimen. Eight months after his arrest, he wrote these words, “… a prison cell like this is a good analogy for Advent; one waits, hopes, does this or that—ultimately negligible things—the door is locked and can only be opened from the outside.” All the situations described before are symbolic cells where we are trapped. Advent reminds us that God is who takes the initiative to unlock the doors of our cells. Certainly we are responsible to find solutions for the problems we have mentioned but we have to count on God who will open the door “from the outside.”
The coming of Jesus announces that God is opening our locked doors from the outside. The arrival of Jesus brings peace, justice, reconciliation, love and liberty to human beings. For Christians, Christmas is the affirmation of those values and the proclamation that God unlocks our hearts, minds, communities, countries and societies without our request or approval. Jesus is coming from the outside to unlock the doors of our inside phantoms.
There are many doors to unlock in our society and within our church. Jesus is coming to open the doors from the outside but needs our participation from the inside. Instead of being frustrated by the shadowed scenario we perceive around us, let us commit to push together from the inside for join Jesus in the effort to open the doors within our society and church
Have a blessed Christmas!
Rev. José Luis Casal, General Missioner