Changing the way a couple thinks and acts
In a surprisingly well-received reflection on the website of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, I reflected how expecting a baby turns a couple’s lives upside down. It fundamentally changes the way they think and act. Now, think about the birth of another child, Jesus. He turned history upside-down. His birth challenged us to change our way of thinking and acting about God, each other and what God’s kingdom looks like.
For those who have ears to hear, his birth tells us we need to let go of unconsciously thinking of God as an angry old man who needs appeasement, free ourselves of our “me-centeredness” and work together in building God’s kingdom. The birth of Jesus calls us to a systemic change in our way of thinking, a change that will change not only our lives but everyone else’s. This one particular baby, Jesus, calls us to rethink why God became one of us. It was not to change God’s mind about us but to change our mind about God and what it means to be sons and daughters.
Since then I have continued to chew on this image. To my surprise, it has led me to a new personal image of what Advent is about and how I can enter more fully into it, in the midst of a Santa Claus world.
My new personal image of Advent
My new image of Advent is an image of expectant parents excitedly seeking evidence of life stirring in a womb.
We’ve all seen pictures of a husband and a wife listening to the stirrings in the womb of the wife. The images show their hope and excitement. How appropriate for Advent!
If we understand that the birth of Jesus calls us to change our way of thinking about God, each other and what God’s kingdom looks like we too will be excited as we experience the first signs of this new way of thinking.
My Advent attitude
With this image in mind, I place myself in the mental state of a couple looking for the stirrings of this new way of thinking. What are the signs, however small and faint, that we are finally beginning to understand the real meaning of the birth of Christ?
- Where do I see signs of breaking the often unrecognized thought patterns of having to earn God’s love?
- Where do I see signs of recognizing that I and others are not the center of the universe manifested by the care and concern I have for the least of my brothers and sisters?
- Where do I see signs that a growing community of people really lives as sons and daughters of God and therefore brothers and sisters?
- Do I get excited when I detect these stirrings?
- Do I run off to the peripheries to bond with my cousins who are experiencing these signs of hope in the process of fulfillment?
- Print out on paper or in your mind the graphic used for this post.
- Make a quiet space in your life to enter into the attitude of the people in this graphic.
- Take the time to listen to the stirrings of Christ-life in the world around you.