Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6, Friday of Week One of Advent

 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, "Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet." (Matthew 22: 1-4) is the entry door for the Taft Museum in downtown Cincinnati. I bet there have been a couple of wedding banquets in the house over the last several decades. There's a huge dining room just off of this hallway. There's a large "living room" just behind the spot from where I took this photo. Plenty of gorgeous artwork and space for ritzy celebrations

You really should visit the Taft should you get the opportunity, especially in the weeks leading up to Christmas. There's a wonderful exhibit of 19th Century American and German handmade Christmas ornaments right at the entry into the older section of the house and museum. There are other Christmas decorations in many of the hallways such as the one in my photo.

I got to thinking though. What if you had never been to the museum and were standing outside on the other side of the doorway. What if you weren't able to see the beauty of the afternoon sunlight shining through the glass above the door, onto the carpet. What if you were outside and you had no visual comprehension of what was inside? What if you nothing about the banquet of beauty existing in the house? What if you had heard about the Taft Museum but had not yet seen it? Wouldn't this make your first visit there even more special!

Perhaps this sense of unknowing is more awe-inspiring if we think about it. What beauty would we behold if we truly lived into Advent.  Most of us, like the Taft Museum, have already decorated our homes for the holidays. Trees are up; lights are lit. Our family's traditional ornaments are artfully set out throughout the house. We're ready! Christmas is here.

It isn't though.... for those who are willing to wait on the other side of the hallway and door. God is preparing the banquet and Christ's incarnation is coming quickly, at least it is in traditional ways of understanding Christmastide. Dec. 25th is the beginning, not the ending of Christmas. We've just pushed up the celebration to begin sometime around the first of November. We can thank our culture for getting Santa and holiday cheer out in front of Saint Nicholas and a truer meaning of Divine love.

I mean I get it. I stopped at the Taft's gift shop and bought some stationary as a Christmas gift. I've got my wreath up on my front door and eyed getting some outdoor Christmas lights to place on the bushes outside of my front door. And yet, it's Advent. What if we had to wait for Jesus' return like Christians sitting by fireplaces did 200 years ago. What if we took some time to ponder what it's like to be invitees to God's Son's wedding banquet and actually show up with inquisitive hearts and minds.

Maybe this challenge is a "both/and" sort of situation. Perhaps we can experience Advent at some point in time each and every day leading up to Dec. 25th even as we experience the beauty surrounding us inside and outside of life's doorways and banquet halls. Maybe we should similarly recall that many people can't afford to visit upscale American museums or purchase holiday gifts and greeting cards either. Such realities come to mind when we don't place our secular Christmas expectations in front of John the Baptist's pleas to give your extra coat to someone who needs it.

I'm glad that our tour to the Taft didn't happen today. It's snowing very hard and the roads are slippery. Today, I have time to reflect upon the beauty I witnessed at the museum yesterday. I have time to reflect how hurried I felt leaving the museum in order to tend to other tasks that needed my attention. Today, I have more time to light a candle, sit in silence, and ponder what it will be like when I again encounter Christ's birth in my life in newborn ways, when the banquet will be especially ready.

Blessings Along The Way, Jim+
December 2 - Monday of Week One of Advent
December 2 - Monday of Week One of Advent
December 2 - Monday of Week One of Advent

No comments:

Post a Comment