This last week I have embarked on an orgy of reading as part of my Advent discipline. I have dipped into Jean Vanier the founder of the L’Arche communities, Mother Theresa from the Sisters of Charity and Richard Twiss, a leader in the First Nation’s movement in North America. At the same time I continue to grapple with what it means to live as a Christ follower in God’s global community and how our experience of the coming of Christ at this season impacts our response to the global economic crisis.
What do all these authors have in common you may well ask? They all express powerfully our need to not just listen to voices from the margins but also to recognize that it is through people who are disabled, destitute and excluded that God often speaks most powerfully.
In this season of Advent how does Christ come to us through the voices of those who are displaced, despised and abused? In the midst of our busyness and stress are we even open to hearing such voices and recognizing our need to listen and learn from them?
“To love is a way of looking, of touching of listening to all” Jean Vanier reminds us. If we really long for the coming of Christ and the eternal kingdom of mutual love, abundance and wholeness that his return will bring into being in all its fullness how do we wait at this season and how do we live into this world today? How do we live by what what NT Wright calls the language of the kingdom and what James calls the royal law – love for God and love of neighbour.
I think that to live in true anticipation of the coming of Christ we must commit ourselves afresh to live according to this language of love. We must all open our eyes to see and respond to the face of God in every stranger. We must open our eyes to hear the voice of God in every outcast and must open our lives to be the love of God to every person we encounter who has been cast bu the wayside because of race, class, education, disabilities, illness, gender or any other disfigurement that excludes them from our lives and our society. It is not an easy task that God challenges us with but it is essential if we really want to see the light of Christ shine in the many dark places of our world.
Maybe as part of your Advent reflections this week you would like to listen to this short video that expresses Mother Theresa’s view of the importance of the poor and the destitute