Sunday, December 22, 2013

O King of Nations... come

[This post is sixth in a series of Advent meditations, exploring the "O Antiphon" for each day as we walk the final steps toward the celebration of the incarnation on the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord.]

King of all Nations,
source of your Church's unity and faith:
save all humankind, your own creation!

When you are a preacher, you trade in image and metaphor. People experience reality through images, so having the right image to portray the right theological point is essential. Perhaps one of the best I ever heard in a sermon was from a colleague of mine at my former parish, Father Daniel Lennox.

"O Ruler"
Sister Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ
He talked about an experience he had as a Canadian playing hockey, a story I don't remember all of but I do remember ended with him in a hockey fight on the ice with the opposing team's mascot. He talked about how one of the things we do to people is that we turn them into caricatures, into mascots of other things, and how this enables us to attack them, to pummel them into the ice and not feel guilty because we have long since stopped to see their humanity.

That image has stuck with me because it resonates with my own sense of the way we create divisions among ourselves in humanity. Difference is not bad, having different groups that explore and experience reality differently is not a bad thing. By engaging with those different than us, those with different views, ideals, and outlooks, we can see how the truth is much bigger than us, than our own extremely limited perspective.

Division, however, is when we turn people or groups into caricatures of themselves, into mascots of some evil we abhor so that we can pummel them into the ice without needing to feel the slightest bit of guilt.

This is not of God.

The incarnation of God demonstrates once and for all that God is the God of all people. Everyone from poor shepherds, to weirdo astrologers from the east, to a couple old people that hang out at the temple all the time, to a young pregnant teenage mother and her husband... these are the ones who are on this Advent journey with us, these are the ones who will rejoice when the king of all is finally revealed.

And I wonder, beloved of God, who do you know that you have turned into a caricature? What person or what group of people do you really want to beat into the ice? Can you see, can you see, beloved, that this person or this group is walking alongside you on this journey... can you see that they are also reaching out for wholeness, a wholeness that can only be found when we love and embrace the other?

O come, Desire of nations, 
bind in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace.

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