By The Rev. Carlton Kelley
As we enter the season of Advent, a time both of penitential preparation and joyful expectation, it may behoove us to ask ourselves what goals we may have for Advent. Sometimes the only realistic goal is simply to “get through” the frantic rush before Christmas without being gobbled up by commercialism. But what about a goal that sets us on a path to more faith, hope and love? Surely at this conflicted time in our country, these will be the gifts that may be most appreciated.
Do we have faith in God as opposed to the always flawed political systems we put in place? Yes, these systems – these people – have potential to do great good, to help God’s kingdom come (even if they don’t realize it!) but often the only product of their work is self protection and self service in the exercise of raw power.
Do we actively hope that God’s will be done and begin to show that reality in our lives by speaking truth and showing kindness even when it is most difficult to do? Will we show love to all, even to those with whom we disagree most? Will our love be manifest in a firm grasp on the truth manifested in Jesus Christ that no one should be vilified and no one cast aside all for the sake of expedience and “winning.” Do the ends justify the means? Can words of hate be used to accomplish good?
On the last Sunday of the liturgical year we read the Gospel of the repentant thief asking Jesus for forgiveness. These two men in the extremity of their suffering reached out to one another and spoke the truth. Jesus spoke the truth of forgiveness which he alone is entitled to do. The thief spoke the truth of his wasted life in confession and was restored to God’s love.
Is it possible that this Advent will be a time when the healing balm of truth will be spoken without fear? It is only then that we will be able to truly see Jesus as true God and true man when he is born both now and at the end of the world.