The Contemplative Companion for the Week of December 11, 2017

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…” – Isaiah 40.1

These famous words of the prophet Isaiah resound in churches during Advent. Perhaps made more famous since they feature prominently in Handel’s Messiah,  a perennial favorite this time of year. Apart from their poetic power, the prophet’s words speak to a deep need and wish, something I refer to as the Advent Remedy.

The Advent Remedy can heal the contrasts and eases the friction-points of our life. The Advent Remedy reverses wrongs and inaugurates rights. The Advent Remedy invites to mature beyond the mis-perceptions of duality toward the understanding of union.

The Advent Remedy is that revelation and application of the Christ-Union, wedding human and divine. This ongoing remedy – and our attention to it and participation in it – is what ultimately brings comfort to people: the easing of resentment; the release of guilt and shame; the reconciliation between our longings and reality; the awakening of wisdom. Such are a few of the gifts of the Advent Remedy.

The Advent Remedy isn’t one and done. It’s a lifetime journey. Year by year, we take the four-fold count of the Advent Sundays as a rhythm of grace to live by. Deeper than just remembering the birth of the “baby Jesus” the Advent Remedy reminds us that Jesus invites us to go where he went. Deeper into the Union.

And yet Union is just the start! No need to build a museum at Christmas and enshrine Jesus there forever. The remedy moves deeper. Indeed, there are other remedies beyond Advent – such as Easter, Ascension and Pentecost, which reveal something beyond Union – perhaps something that is Pure Mystery: the realities of Christ. Trinity. Life in the Spirit. And Theosis – the ultimate remedy of all.

And last but not least. Probably, any comfort we receive in life will somewhere, somehow also involve a cross. It’s quantum joy and suffering all the way. Or, in theological terms: cross and resurrection.

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