With Advent’s approach, a Buddhist saying comes to mind:
“When the student is ready, the Master appears.”
As we suggested in our first issue of Ruminations (released a little over a week ago… available by clicking here), Advent is more than Christmas lite. It’s a distinct season of preparation in which and through which we are better prepared and equipped to receive the fullness of Christmas and its Gift.
And among the basics as we prepare? In my own mind and heart, there’s the essential task of acknowledging –recognizing and accepting — our need for a Savior.
Here, a variety of fundamental teachings come to mind:
There’s Jesus asking the paralytic “do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) – affirming his words elsewhere that they have no need for a physician (a savior) who do not or can not acknowledge their brokenness. (Mark 2:17)
Related, there are the essential first affirmations of 12-Steppers: 1) acknowledging that our lives are out of control and we alone are powerless to effect changes, and 2) coming to believe that there is a Higher Power (a savior) that can restore sanity.
Others could be added. These, though, are the ones that come immediately to mind. These are sufficient to make the point: that they have no need for the core Gift of Christmas who do not see and feel the need for a savior.
This is not to say that there are no blessings for those who are not so prepared. Grace is as amazing at Christmas as it is at any other time of the year. There’ll be a lot joy and peace and love and hope experienced by many who bypass the ancient path to Christmas which is Advent and its preparations.
Sadly, though, the experience of such gifts will brush past the real and lasting Gift – the deepest and fullest Grace of Christmas. It’s a variation of the toddler enamored with a present’s bow – oblivious to the deeper, fuller gift… and the ultimate intentions of the Giver.
A traditional word from the prophet at this time of the year (“Those that walk in darkness have seen a great light”) implies that eyes are open and working – that individuals are in a position to see. On the basis of all of this, the meaning of the Buddhist saying, above, becomes clear – at least to me: “When the student is ready [to see],
the Master (the Savior) appears.”
Not that He only then arrives
but that His ever-presence
is only then fully perceived and acknowledged!
And, therein, Friends, is the essential distinction
between Advent and Christmas:
Christ fully present:
that’s the Gift of Christmas!
Eyes and hearts open to see and receive that Gift:
that’s, in large part,
the challenge of Advent!