Our liturgical year begins with Advent. The word "advent" comes from the Latin root ad venire, and its translation, "coming to" or “to come” implies a journey. For the Church the word refers both to the coming of Christ in the flesh, the Incarnation, which began the messianic age, and to his coming in glory, when he will bring his work of redemption to its completion in the resurrection of the dead and then hand the perfected Kingdom over to the Father. Advent not only celebrates Christ’s journey to its completion, but also, our journey into the Incarnation. Advent is a season of preparation and expectation in anticipation of the coming of our Lord Jesus on the Last Day. The One who came by Bethlehem's crib and Calvary's cross, who comes to us now in Word and Holy Eucharist, is the One who is coming again in glory to raise us from the dead and give eternal life to all who believe in him. The incarnational life began when the Christ broke into our world. Coming down from heaven, Jesus was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man. From the moment of his conception, the world has never been the same. The world can never go back to the state it was before Jesus entered our world in human flesh, for the world is forever marked by his Incarnation. The very same flesh and blood Jesus who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried, on the third day rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father continues to be present in the preaching of the Gospel and in the sacramental life of the Church.
Life itself is a journey from birth to death, and for the Christian, life is a pilgrimage from baptism to death, the entrance into eternity. In the waters of Holy Baptism the Christian gets death over with as he or she dies and is buried with Christ and is reborn to new life in Christ that never ends. It is in Baptism that the Christian, putting on Christ, enters the incarnational life. With the cross as our victory and suffering, we feed on Holy Words and eat Holy Food, spiritual and sacramental food that sustains us on our journey. The goal of our journey is to live in Christ’s presence forever and to feast at his table for eternity. The Christian pilgrimage is an incarnational life in Christ.
What does it mean to live an incarnational life in today’s world? To live incarnationally is to bear witness that Jesus Christ is present in our world through his salvific grace, through his holy word by which we are led to the truth, and through his flesh given to our flesh as food and as a sign of his presence among us. Our incarnational lives testify that Christ's presence in the world transforms the world, its people, and its creatures and makes all things new. Christ is present in the world through grace, through us, and he is present for the life of the world. So many people today are searching for something to fill and satisfy them. What they desperately seek, we already richly experience in our spiritual lives! The question those seekers who have not yet found Christ are really asking is, “How can I live the incarnational life?” Our response is in word and action, "We live Christ who lives in us!" And then they will ask, "What does this mean and how is it done?" And then we can invite them, "Come to St. Paul’s Church and receive the gifts of Christ's flesh in hearing the Gospel and feasting at his banquet. And then go out into the world and be what you have become in Christ!" This is the incarnational life! Fr. Al Jewson
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.