Christ stands at the door: an Advent reflection
Dec 17, 2018|Written By: Nathan Walton
In the midst of this Advent season, I am reminded of the words of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Advent sermon 90 years ago:
“One day, at the last judgment, he will separate the sheep and the goats and will say to those on his right: “Come, you blessed,…I was hungry and you fed me… (Matt. 25:34). To the astonished question of when and where, he answered: “What you did to the least of these, you have done to me….” (Matt. 25:40). With that we are faced with the shocking reality: Jesus stands at the door and knocks, in complete reality. He asks you for help in the form of a beggar, in the form of a ruined human being in torn clothing. He confronts you in every person that you meet. Christ walks on the earth as your neighbor as long as there are people. He walks on the earth as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you and makes his demands. That is the greatest seriousness and the greatest blessedness of the Advent message. Christ stands at the door. He lives in the form of the person in our midst. Will you keep the door locked or open it to him?”
For years I have been fascinated by this Advent sermon because it reorients what it means to respond to Christ’s coming. Bonhoeffer reminds us that Christ’s coming is not simply a 2,000-year-old memory, but an ongoing reality that can confront us in “every person we meet.” Christ continues to come. With this perspective, our interactions with others become occasions to engage in the mutually transformative relationships that result from the active presence of God among and between us. Perhaps this is what it means to wait during Advent. Perhaps it is an active waiting; a ‘paying attention’ to how God is already at work in the lives and communities around us, with the promise that as we engage in that work, we will be changed in ways we could not have anticipated. At Abundant Life, we understand this opportunity as the grace of God. During this Advent season, may we actively wait with our eyes open to Christ’s coming in our day-to-day encounters with others. May we have ears to hear the still small voice that offers to guide and direct us, even into unexpected places, knowing that all along Jesus has actually been there waiting for us.
As we learn from and walk alongside those in the Prospect neighborhood, thank you for the ways that you support this work. As mentioned in our recent End-of-Year Appeal letter, we remain in need of funds towards our end-of-year goal of $75,000 dollars. Please consider giving as these funds help to support Prospect neighborhood families.
Grace and Peace,
Nathan Walton, Ph.D.