What a perfect time in history to talk about “Lamenting!” Let’s let it all hang out. Most of us don’t have Christmas shopping done yet, or cards or letters finished. Maybe family is not all getting along. We’re living in a time of political upheaval, homelessness and persecution running rampant. Yes, we can help on a small scale, but the problems are never-ending! Let’s not run away from the situations or turn off the TV too soon. There’s real pain out there and in here.
Isaiah laments to God, saying: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would shake before you! … All of us have become unclean and soiled, even our good deeds are polluted. … Yet you are our mother and father, YHWH; we are the clay and you are the potter, we are all the work of your hands.” The people are lost without God. They feel like God has abandoned them, when instead they have abandoned God. They had to wake up to that before they could be converted. There’s joy in just that!
We know that story as well. Blaming is a dead-end game! When we realize that and take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions life is more real. At that point we’re ready to listen to the voice of wisdom, often called “Sophia.”
Advent is a time to do just that, practice listening to the voice of wisdom. How do we actually take the time to do that? Each of us has been trying to do that for many years. Let’s take a fresh look at what wisdom has to teach us now. Our motto at St. Mary of Magdala is “Grounded in tradition, soaring with the Spirit.” Where is the Spirit guiding the Christian churches today? Many people and congregations are picking up the concept and strain of the “emerging or emergent church.” This has been in the air for many years. Remember the Week of praying for Christian Unity, January 18 – 25. That concept has evolved. I think the “emerging church” has taken us further into a Christianity that seeks together to go back to Jesus’ life and vision of his divine commission: teaching people to “stay alert!” Now we can see that we are invited to stay alert for opportunities to listen and learn from other Christian groups. We can learn how to be more effective in bringing about a peaceful, compassionate world. Through Christians being united we can accomplish changes we could never have imagined as Catholics.
Together with other Christians we can do much more to change people’s attitudes and behaviors regarding such things as the role of money in society, the importance of education based on equality and love.
Show pictures of the Indiana Interchurch Center.
We can become a church that leads and encourages people to look for where the Spirit of God, Holy Wisdom, is leading us, and then take the steps to follow that lead.
Jesus, the Christ, has been seen in the New Testament as the personification of Wisdom, the “wisdom of God,” folly to the wise of this world. (1Cor.1:18-25.)
View Christ Pantocrator, meaning “sovereign” or Sophia, the Sinai Christ, from the Monastery of St. Catherine, Sinai, Egypt, also called “The Blessing Christ,” later, “The Lover of humankind.” (Find ”Christ Panocrator” on the Internet)
His hand is raised to bless and almost seems to reach out to touch those viewing the painting, while his face is still and timeless. Christ appears to be looking out straight ahead beyond the frame.
As we look into the face of Christ let’s each ask ourselves if this Advent I dare risk beginning again to discover my own truest and deepest self. His face invites me to trust him. Is it time for me to start again the life-long journey of learning to love my shadows that I fear and project onto others. The Sinai Christ encourages me to trust the deeper meaning of judgment and compassion.
I think it’s time for deep prayer and reflection. Let’s bring up those secret thoughts and emotions into the light of day. Sophia will guide us personally and as a Catholic Community in the Emerging Church beyond lamenting into the joy of being Christ.
The Eucharist teaches us how to be Christ. Let’s be there enthusiastically.
Maria Thornton McClain, RCWP
December 3, 2017