Now that Christmas is over, you might be asking yourself, “What’s ahead in 2013?” As we consider the coming New Year, I want to encourage us to ask ourselves, “How are we to live in these days after advent?” Though we are loading up our trashcans with torn Christmas wrapping, I think it’s critical we just don’t blow by Christmas.
My friend and art colleague, Cam Anderson, the president of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), wrote this thoughtful Christmas reflection that has much to say about the coming new year and how we live in the hope of the Christ’s coming Kingdom. Cam’s letter reminded me, though Advent celebrates the anticipated arrival of Christ at Christmas, as followers of Christ, we are to daily live under the rule of Christ as we anticipate His final coming.
I hope you enjoy this guest post by Cam. Take a few minutes to remind yourself whose you are in Christ and whose Kingdom you really belong to. Read on…
In the Church at least, the weeks leading to Christmas invite us to consider both the reality of Christ’s humble birth in Bethlehem and his triumphal return in the Eschaton. During this Advent season my meditations have centered on the latter, the coming of Christ the King. With the stories and images of unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut still fresh in our minds, my impulse is to cry out: “Lord, come quickly.”
But the horror of Sandy Hook merely amplified what we already knew: there is so much about the world that is wrong, so much that needs healing, fixing, and mending. Not infrequently, this neediness – and not least our own need – is too much to bear. Wise solutions to our besetting problems seem to elude the powerful, the committed, the brilliant, and even the prayerful. Consequently, in the believing community we rightly long for the Day when Christ the King will return to make it right.
My initial meditation on the neediness of this world gave rise to a second: I have never lived beneath the rule of an active monarch, under the powerful hand of royalty. As one who prizes personal freedom and autonomy, it occurred to me that while I claim to desire the coming rule of Christ, his dominion could seem strange, even uncomfortable. In fact, the birth of Jesus introduced a sudden and sharp turn in the road: it turns out that none of is the center of the universe. Rather, we are all subjects in a kingdom.
Fortunately, the Kingdom of God is marked by benevolence and generosity, not tyranny. It is a domain wherein the One who is all powerful comes to serve. Under God’s rule and reign, the powerless will be safe. Cruelty will come to an end. Troubled spirits will be healed. The disabled and disenfranchised will discover true agency, even creativity. The tyrants and mongers of power and war will be handed their permanent “pink slips.”
If you can find a quiet moment – even five minutes – tonight or tomorrow morning amid family, travel, food preparation, and gift-giving, set the crazier apocalyptic end-of-the-world stuff to the side and imagine a day when God’s plan and purpose for this world is accomplished. Our world belongs to God and he will set it right!
Those of us in the art world – even traditionalists – prize “thinking outside of the box.” Edginess is often our badge of honor and questing after the “new,” habitual. But if there is some reality more edgy, radical, unconventional, or transformative than the coming rule of Christ, I would be curious to know what that might be.
Cam Anderson is a visual artist and the President of Christians in the Visual Arts. I highly encourage you to visit CIVA’s website and join this wonderful organization today.
Questions: What do you find most encouraging about what Cam has to say? How does the hope of God’s kingdom give you perspective when evil seems to prevail?
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