By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
This Sunday we began our mini-Via theme of AHSCKNYE, which stands for Advent, Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years and Epiphany. We celebrate all of these traditions at Jubilee! Circle, recognizing the depth and the breadth of the spiritual expressions of humanity. Below is an excerpt from the Dec. 3, 2017 sermon celebrating the first day of this Advent season, along with a link to the sermon audio.
Readings: Psalm 80: 1-7: Let thy face shine that we may be saved.
Mark 13: 33-37:You do not know when …
A Course in Miracles, Chapter 12: You see what you expect, and you expect what you invite
Song used for this sermon: Ordinary Miracle by Sarah McLachlan, sung by the amazing Alyson Ford.
In our Jesus story, we find the second meaning of the Advent season that traditional Christianity teaches us. We are to prepare, yes, for Jesus’ first coming into this world as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger amidst the mooing cows and the bleating goats. But, Advent is also a time to remember the doctrine that Jesus is coming back a second time.
Now, as a Southern Baptist child, the first part of today’s scripture that we didn’t read was used to scare the hell right of you.
“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.”
That’s some wickedly scary stuff when you’re young … the sun blotted out, the moon going dark and stars falling from the heavens. Of course, that coming of the “Son of Man” in the clouds gets conflated with the Revelation vision of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and Jesus coming back with his terrible sword to slay the wicked and claim the faithful.
What’s really going on here? Is this truly a passage about how Jesus is coming back to rapture his favorites and inflict horrible violence on infidels? No, I don’t believe so. I believe what is being described is the necessary process we must go through spiritually during our own times of expectation.
Whenever we are in the midst of suffering, whenever we are in the clutches of the ego’s thrall, it’s like the end of the world. Our mind is filled with darkness, we are unable to understand the truth of what’s happening. The stars will fall — which, in the Greek used here, means that we lose our place – we are unable to navigate life from the North Star of our Christ consciousness and we feel powerless.
The powers of heaven will be shaken, which in the Greek used in this passage, means that our mind is disturbed and unhappy. This, Jubilants, is good news, because when we reach this place, we are in the Advent moment of expectation. This place, according the Course in Miracles, is where we realize we have a choice about the reality we choose – will we choose the ego’s fear-based reality, or the higher self’s realm of love?
“You see what you expect, and you expect what you invite,” the Course tells us. “Your perception is the result of your invitation, coming to you as you sent for it. Whose manifestations would you see? Of whose presence would you be convinced? For you will believe what you manifest, and as you look out so will you see in.”
The recognition of the darkness, the feelings of powerlessness and despair, and our realization that we have a choice in what we want to see manifested in this world, is our first step away from the ego and into connection with our higher self. In that moment, “the Son of Man,” the scripture tells us, comes with “power,” or “dynamis” — a feminine Greek noun that means “the power to perform miracles.”
This passage, then, really is about the pending apocalypse because that word, stripped of its fear-inducing mythology, simply means “to reveal,” or “to uncover.” This is what our expectation does for us, it reveals the key to awakening.
It’s true that we don’t know when the Son of Man — that higher self — will break through for us as we struggle to overcome the ego’s power that seeks to keep us asleep. But, the struggle is our Advent time of expectation. That apocalypse — that revelation — will come, though, when we the veil of the fear in this bodily world is lifted and we awaken, like Sleeping Beauty, from the loving kiss of our Christ consciousness.