We look back 2000 years and think that somehow it must have been a better world. Yes, there was violence, hatred, and fear…but was it really as bad a time as ours is?
Why couldn’t we have been living then? Wouldn’t we have recognized Jesus as the Messiah? Wouldn’t we have understood his message if we could just have walked side by side with him?
Or why couldn’t he have been born today? Surely our time needs him even more than the time 2000 years ago…
But “advent” means “coming”…and every Advent we celebrate is a time when we look back to when Jesus was born…and forward to his second coming.
We can fold our hands and sit patiently, waiting for that second coming…for that time when the world will be changed. Or…we can be part of it.
We can work to bring about the changes Jesus tried to teach us…the changes that are caught up in what he said were the two greatest commandments: (1) to love God with everything we have in us, and (2) to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
The first one seems easy…the second one not so much. Especially now.
We might find ourselves asking again, “Who is my neighbor?” And can we hear Jesus’ answer? Our neighbors are not just the people who look or act like us…the people who believe like us. Our neighbors are those who look different…who have different understandings and perspectives…and yes, even those that we might dislike and even fear.
But fear only breeds more fear. And the baby whose coming we look back to–and the incredible teacher and peacemaker whose coming we look forward to–came to help us bridge those gaps of fear and violence. He taught that perfect love casts out fear.
That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
But what would our world be like…what could it be like…if we really believed that?
Maybe we’ve reached the tipping point when we’re ready to live it. Maybe we’re tired enough of the violence…the hate…the fear.
Maybe…just maybe…this is the year.