Healing Our Blindness.
Daily Advent Reflection.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all
And His shelter was a stable
And His cradle was a stall
With the poor, oppressed and wholly
Lived on earth our Savior holy
And our eyes
At last shall see Him
Through His own redeeming love
For that child, so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above
And He leads His children along
To the place that He is gone.
– Sufjan Stevens
These daily Slow Church Advent Reflections are based on the Daily Readings of the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). We love for you to read and reflect along with us!
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Today’s passage is one that has likely been used throughout church history to justify anti-semitic behaviors. Peter chides the Jews here for their ignorance in not seeing that Jesus was their messiah, and although it is not quite as clear in the specific text for today, if we scroll back to earlier in chapter 3, we see that he also chides them for killing the Author of Life (v. 15). For Christians to leap, however, from the criticisms that Peter is levying here to opposition to the Jews is to go after the speck while ignoring the log in our own eye.
How often do we, like the Pharisees, prefer a religion that makes us look and feel good, but turns a blind eye toward the marginalized? Or how often do we act like the Sadducees, and deny Christ’s resurrection – or at least the power of Christ’s resurrection that, as we have explored over this series of Advent reflections, sets us free from fear? Despite the advantage of the 2000+ years of hindsight that we have, are we really any better than the Jews of the first century at understanding who Jesus was and what his life, death, resurrection and ascension means for humanity? Even as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we prefer the consumerist narrative of Santa Claus and excessive gift-giving over the story of God incarnate in a lowly manger. Do we have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? I was surprised to see how many times this refrain about eyes and ears was repeated throughout scripture, and almost all of them are oriented not at pagans, but at the people of God.
The Advent season is about slowing down, about anticipating the incarnation of Jesus. You’ll be surprised by this, but the faster we move – say when we’re flying down the interstate at 70mph – the less we see. Even at the pace of a bicycle, we see less than when we are walking. Similarly, we need the Advent season (and the season of Lent and other seasons of fasting and reflection) as intentional practices of slowing ourselves down and allowing Jesus to heal our blindness and deafness, and beginning to see in rich detail the deep and abundant life in to which we have been called in Christ, and all the selfish ways in which we are held captive from entering into that life. Come Lord Jesus, with healing in your wings!
Chris Smith is co-writing Slow Church (forthcoming Likewise/IVP Books) with John Pattison. He is editor of The Englewood Review of Books, and a member of The Englewood Christian Church community on the urban Near Eastside of Indianapolis.