Warning: this all may sound offensive, but it's not intended to be.In little over an hour (here in California), the Eight Night of Chanukah will start. I'm waiting here at the Orange Circle, as I heard a group comes out every night to celebrate and I would love to participate.
As I wait, a thought came to mind about Advent.
Jews celebrate Chanukah, and generally look forward to the day Messiah will come. Chanukah can be a reminder that God is still present and desires to be with His people. There's an anticipation. (If you who are reading this are Jewish, please fill me in on this from your perspective)
For Christians, it's generally understood and believed that Messiah HAS come, in the person of Jesus. Around the end of November begins a tradition called Advent, which is a time to reflect on the looking forward to and longing of Messiah to come. It's a great time to personally reflect and really wonder about what the impact of His coming would bring. With Jesus, we believe He brought the love that is God into human form. He showed us the power of forgiveness, loving our neighbor (friend or foe), helping the helpless, and bringing us all into family; the family of God.
Again, with Advent, there is a looking forward to this. So I wondered, "Jesus has already come...now what?" When I think of traditions like Advent and Christmas, I both enjoy and struggle with them. When the holiday is passed, it seems like we go back about our regular life, and wait until next year. In the meantime...? This is a time to reflect on the future, but what about the present? Jesus IS already. It's said He is the one who was, who is, and who is to come.
What is the discord in our lives? Some things take longer to heal and take a variety of ways. Some things will happen in the future, but Jesus is with us now? What is His desire?
Room For More
As I look at the menorah waiting, I see an unlit candle, with room for more. It's to mark the eighth night/day, but I see it as having room for more. God has more in store.
The blank candle can also indicate that something is missing and not complete. Look around and ask, "what's missing?"
Jesus sent His disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and to make disciples of Jesus. To me, that's both an awesome and scary command. How am I/we to share Jesus?
History has shown a GREAT and vast variety of sharing Jesus. From being society outcasts, doing miracles, to setting up official state churches, crusades to inquisition, charity and handshakes, to assimilation of cultures, which one was right? How is the Jesus of true history reflected in our sharing of Him?
We applaud Jesus. We applaud people like Him. We applaud the Mother Teresa's, the St Francis's, the MLK's, and a host of others who lived to help others. What or who do we esteem higher than they?
When I sit in public, I see people going about their business and think they don't need to be bothered. Should I share Jesus with them? If I think Jesus doesn't want me to interrupt them, am I really setting Jesus aside? Is Jesus only desiring for me? When love was/is the motivation, 11 people went out into a hostile world and turned it upside down. The barrier between a Holy God and unholy people was broken. With that, a barrier between Jew and Gentile was also broken down. Both could be together before the Holy God as brothers, sharing their life. They could be the hand through whom God could wipe away tears, lift the hurting, place the widow and orphan into family. Through love, the image of God is seen and bestowed on all men (and women!). In fear, the barrier remains between us and they. The image of God is lost. Security is held through war, strength, walls, laws, distance, and ultimately through death...even at times in the name of Jesus.
As I see room for more, I believe God lovingly desires us to be joined together, to seek others out and invite.