During this Nativity fast / Advent season, I’ve decided to take up a challenge I’ve not done for over a year—40 days of blogging. So beginning today and continuing through Christmas Eve, I’ll be posting every day on this weblog (I still really dislike the word blog even though it’s well-established now). This will include sermons (yes, I know I’m a couple weeks behind!), as well as daily reflections on whatever strikes me.
This morning, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across this video:
As I watched the first few seconds, I suddenly and unexpectedly experienced a flood of feeling that brought me to the edge of tears. I’d never seen this video before, but of course the hymn, which is an adaption of the famous O Antiphons from the Latin liturgical tradition, is profoundly suggestive for me. It is one of my favorite Christmas hymns, and in its most basic sense, the message here is O come, O come, Emmanuel, a cry for the coming of the long-expected Jesus Christ precisely as “God with us,” Whose entry into our world brings a fundamental change to its character.
My emotions were of memory and loss, as though all the family Christmases and all my decades which are now past and all my departed family and friends and all my broken friendships were suddenly all brought to the foreground, all at once. My sense was not really nostalgia, but really of hope, that everything which is painful about all that loss will be made well, and all that has been lost will be returned with the coming of the Messiah.
For He is come to claim His people for Himself and to vindicate all wrongs.
I thought about all this as I was re-watching yesterday a now newly-released video that I did with Theoria:
Now what does an Orthodox approach to environmentalism have to do with the vindication of the world that comes in the Nativity of Christ? As I mention in the video, I believe that one appropriate posture of the Orthodox Christian toward the created world is as its priest. And in any vindication, the truth of things is revealed.
So as we await the coming Messiah Who is coming to vindicate not just His people but all of creation, we can see His coming and our participation in it as precisely a priestly act. Why? It is because both we and the natural world are ultimately called to live in service to the worship of our God. The coming of Jesus Christ reveals this world as a cosmic cathedral and reveals us as its priesthood:
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:19-25)
We live in a messed up, chaotic, broken and even absurd world. All of that is coming to an end. Things shall be set to rights. And when they are, we shall all be caught up in that great and universal liturgy, the divine service of God to His creation.