Illuminating Advent: The Word Made Flesh

On the first day of each week of Advent, Seeing the Word will post an illumination paired with an audio reading of the associated Scripture passage. The subsequent days will feature the six movements of visio divina: Listening, Meditating, Seeing, Praying, Contemplating, and Becoming Christ-like.

 

December 13, 2015 – December 20, 2015

Week Three•Day onE

Reading

John 1:1-14

Listen to what word God has for you.

 

WEEK THREE•DAY two

Listening

“In the beginning…” This first line of the Gospel of John may have you wondering if you are reading Genesis. Here is a stand up, pay attention phrase, shared to introduce an important event. The incarnation story unfolds right before our eyes. At the center of this passage is the everlasting gift of light that overpowers darkness. John the Baptist co-stars as a staunch herald of the power of this light. He bears witness to the incarnation and the Word, who becomes flesh and lives among us in the person of Jesus.  

This reading from the Gospel of John offers a dichotomy, that even today, is both confounding and hopeful. Some of God’s own creations do not accept or recognize Him. Nevertheless, day after day God continues to offer the opportunity for all to become God’s faithful children.  

This week let us recognize that we were uniquely fashioned by God. Let us claim this truth and cling to the Lord’s light, which overcomes darkness. Let us look forward to basking in the warmth of the Christmas story that reveals the incarnation.

 

WEEK THREE•DAY Three

Meditating

Imagine the miracle: The Word breathed life, and the world came into being. The Word became a living being—a true light illuminating our very existence. Experiencing times of anxiety, fear, and loneliness is part of the human condition. These feelings can erode us, leaving empty holes that can so easily be filled with darkness. But there is always an alternative! Words are powerful; a caring and compassionate word can pull us out of an unbearable situation into a place of light and peace. Jesus was famous for His healing words. Remember the story of the Centurion asking Jesus to heal his sick servant? Jesus responded, saying, “Only say the word and my servant will be healed” (Matt 8:8).   

So it was in the beginning. The Word created a new earth filled with life and light, where His grace and truth prevail. It is striking that this combination of grace and truth does not appeal to all people. Sometimes we reject it. Personally, when I choose to act in darkness rather than light, a shadow hangs over me and drains my spirit. However, the Word has come to open the gate where light and life flow back to me and set me free. Positive changes are possible for all of us when the Word becomes deeply seeded in our hearts. The Word is so much more than a word. The Word is life itself. May our words model the grace and truth that Jesus has offered us and be a source of ongoing life for others and this world.

 

WEEK THREE•DAY Four

Seeing

The illumination of the incarnate golden Christ beckons. Christ, standing against the cosmos, is solid, yet delicate. This is an ideal prelude for the birth of Jesus. A dying star hangs at the top of the illumination. Millions of years later, after this star morphs into a black hole, the earth will still receive its light. So too with Jesus, though his physical body is gone, he remains a brilliant source of life and light for us even today.  

The Lord’s presence, symbolized by gold in The Saint John’s Bible, is bold. It is hard to take my eyes off of the sparkly figure. It is a stunning, yet haunting illumination. I am taken with his transparency and causal stance. Where are his hands and feet? Jesus seems to open himself to us in the illumination. I wish I could see his face. I want to talk to him. I wonder why Jesus is so transparent. I want to touch him. I want Jesus to stay but it looks as if he is on the move. Or is that me? My busyness makes it difficult to contemplate Jesus and my life with him.  

On the left side of the illumination is a mysterious keyhole. Its placement seems worthy of taking the time to ponder. The key to the door may open us to the birth of the Christ Child. What else might the key unlock? During this Advent there is still time to look, listen and get in touch with his grace and truth and to find the gifts that Jesus brings into the world through his birth.

 

WEEK THREE•DAY Five

Praying

Lord, you must make yourself shine like gold for me to pay attention. You must sparkle so much that I will stop in my tracks to look at you. I wonder why it is that I don’t make you a priority. Rather I often just try to fit you into the cracks of my life. When I fix my gaze on this illumination I am reminded of the gift you are to me. This image lacks hands and feet. What are you trying to tell me? My head keeps filling with the hymn based on words from St. Teresa of Avila:

“Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world… You are his body. Christ has no body now but yours…”

Thank you, Lord, for coming. Thank you for sharing your flesh and blood. Help me to offer your love and compassion in this world. Unlock in me that which resists a more authentic relationship with you. Implant your Word on my heart. Amen.   

 

WEEK THREE•DAY Six

Contemplating

Gold upon gold shimmers throughout this illumination. God’s presence is in every fleck. When an artist applies gold leaf onto a page, one’s mere breath can send the gold flying in the atmosphere. In order to keep this precious material in place, windows and doors must be secured. No quick motions or unplanned actions can occur. The atmosphere must be regulated so that the gold does not dissipate. These demands of using gold may not seem compatible with our life, where changes abound.  Twists and turns, depths and valleys are traveled year after year.

Is gold compatible with our perception of Jesus? The illumination seems to be open, moving and incorporating the whole of the cosmos. Perhaps the pure gold of Jesus’ figure is meant to fly in a billion different directions in order to touch every person on earth. Jesus’ incarnation reflects his relationship with us. The micro specks of his golden presence abound in our lives every day and permeate our existence.  We are part of him and he is part of us. The kingdom of God lives today, on earth, through us. Gold is everywhere.       

 

WEEK THREE•DAY Seven

Becoming Christ-like

The Word is divine. Yet Jesus, the Word, also lived among us and was fully human. Like us, he experienced thoughts, feelings, loves and losses. He understands us. The Word continues today to echo and impact in our lives. Darkness may surround us and convince us this is our lot, yet Christ is still present. As his disciples, we can offer each other words of comfort and acts of mercy. We can visit the sick, the lonely, and those imprisoned by all sorts of darkness. We can offer a smile, a hug, a can of soup, a prayer or a note. What do you do best? Offer your gold.

May we be comforted by the fact that Christ’s life and light will never abandon us. May we be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus in our communities. When darkness befalls us, let us be open to receive the light from each other. We are in this together. We can hold a candle in the darkness and be assured of an eternal source of fuel for the light.  

Let this week’s illumination enliven you as you claim the grace and receive the gold that is available as quickly as the flutter of a heartbeat. As you sit by the fire in adoration, may your spirit be rekindled during this amazingly warm season.

 


Susie Kuszmar is a Marriage and Family Therapist with a Master of Arts degree in Adult Christian Community Development from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. She is a newly retired Mission Vice President from Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California and a very thankful wife, mother and grandmother.


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