Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Advent Words 2010
Dr Alex Tang
My Advent word for today is Anticipation.
I did not grow up
in a Christian family so Christmas and Christmas presents did not have a
influential role in my life until I became a Christian during my University
days. My parents were worshippers of the traditional Chinese religion which is a
combination of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. It is later in life that they
both became Christians. My family was not rich, in fact we were living just
above the poverty line but there is love and we have what we need. I remember
that I always look forward to the Chinese New Year which means a new set of
clothes, an angpow (containing usually two dollars- which is a fortune to a
little boy) and good food. The last month of the lunar year is often spent in
anticipation of the coming of the Chinese New Year festival.
My Advent word for today is Longing.
We are created for
relationship with God and with any break in this relationship creates a deep
longing inside us. The deep inner indescrible longing is like homesickness where
you know there is another place you rather be. C.S.Lewis has described this
longing well in his Surprised by Joy
where he described his conversion. I remember I first felt this deep aching
longing when I was twelve years old. I was too young to understand this and
lived with these inner longings for many years. I read and devoured sacred texts
from many religious traditions to find the answer to this longing.
Today, my word of
Advent meditation is
Today, my word is Hands
A short stubby hand reaches out to touch the coarse linen swaddling his body in a stable. The other hand reaches out and touches a soft gentle face, that of his mother, Mary. And there is another face with bristly hairs on his face, his father Joseph. Moments before, these hands enfolds the whole of all known universes, able to create something out of nothing, and brings order out of chaos. Now these are the hands of a small, helpless baby boy, unable even to feed himself. These are the hands of God incarnate.
A small hand reaches out to touch the gold lining of the walls of the Temple. The boy’s hands are small, soft, and gentle. These hands play with mud; making mud cakes, and animals. Fingernails are stained as the hands patiently mould and form mud figurines. These hands point and gesture chasing the thoughts of their owner as he argues a point with the teachers in the Temple. These are the hands of a young Immanuel.
A hand reaches out for a piece of wood. This hand is now hard; callused at the tips and the palms, scarred on the fingers. These hands have worked at his father’s carpenter workshop for many years. They have learned to appreciate the feeling of good wood, to feel for the grain and to perceive the plane of the cut. It knows how to handle tools, and knows where to cut and where not to cut. It has made straight what was once bent and bend what was once straight. These are the hands of a carpenter’s son.
A hand reaches out and begins to write on the sand, as an angry mob mills around, picking up stones and rocks. These men were ready to punish a woman caught in the act of adultery. The punishment was death by stoning. They hesitated as they read what a finger of the carpenter’s son has written on the hot burning sand. Then their hearts burn with shame. One by one, they tossed aside their stones and rocks and walked away. A hand reached out to the hapless woman and a voice said, “Go and sin no more” These are the hands of love.
A hand reaches out and touches a blind man’s eyes. Eyes that were unable to appreciate the bright colours of flowers, the beauty of the setting sun or the smile on the face of a beloved one. “Do you see anything?” a gentle voice asked. The man looked and saw tree shapes walking around. Doubts began to fill his heart and hope fades. The hands touch his eyes again. Suddenly the world comes into focus. It is such a beautiful world. These are the hands of healing.
A hand reaches up and a voice asks for water. The Samaritan woman hesitates and wonders about this Jewish man’s motive. It was late morning and they are alone. She pours water from her jar and watches as the man drinks from his cupped hands. These are not the soft, pale hands of a priest, scribe or rabbi, she notes. Her mouth opens in awe as these hands point to the sky to emphasis that true worship is neither here in Samaria or in Jerusalem but in spirit and in truth. These are the hands of spiritual glocalization.
A hand reaches out and clasps its partner tightly in prayer. The body tenses as the mind struggles with the commitment required of the carpenter’s son. Beads of blood form on his brows, flow down his face and fall on the garden’s grass. The night is dark, the air heavy, and the world is hushed at this significant moment in kairos time. The hand searches in vain for another human hand but his friends are all asleep. Finally, the moment of decision, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” The tense hands relax. These are the hands of a saviour.
A hand is laid out on a piece of wood and a heavy nail was driven violently through it. Tissues are torn, tendons cut, bones crushed and nerves scream out in pain as the brutal blow is struck. Then as the cross is hoisted into the air, the hands tear as the weight of the body bears on them. These hands hold the body on the cross as the man struggles with his breathing. A voice says, “It is finished.” A dividing curtain somewhere tears and light shines through. These are the hands of Christ.
A hand reaches out to Thomas for him to examine. A day ago, these hands lay ashen and dead in a tomb. Thomas looked at the nail-pierced hands and his worship burst out, “My Lord and my God.” These pierced hands held a sobbing Mary Magdalene and clasp the trembling hands of his beloved disciple. It makes breakfast for head-strong Peter. These hands were dead but now are alive. They bless the disciples as the man ascends to heaven. As the resurrected Christ sits on the right hand of God, his hands continues to intercede for his followers on earth. These are the hands of God.
Many hands now reach out to each other and their neighbours. These hands help the poor, defend the helpless, encourage the depressed, liberate the oppressed, comfort the distressed, gather the lost, build up the community, restore broken relationships, calm the angry, clean a cut, feed the hungry, lift the fallen, support the broken, pray for the hopeless, reach the unreachable, touch the untouchables, forgive the unforgivable, teach the clueless, feed the hungry, heal the wounded, empower the powerless, and demonstrate Christ-like character on earth. These are the hands of the Body of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria
"treat, heal, and comfort always"
"spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"
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