Advent, Becoming Like Christ, Mutuality Sunday, New Creation Women of Advent, New Testament Women of Advent, Old Testament Women of Advent, People of Color & Christmas, Rev. Tega Swann

Introduction to Advent 2022 Series

 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” Jesus, Matthew 20:16

One of the strongest messages of the benefit of faith in Christ is ‘change.’ Many, including myself, have testified to the change in attitudes we experienced when we invited Christ into our lives. Today, I want us to engage conversation around that ‘change.’

1/ That spiritual change because of faith in Christ is not a one-time event but instead the beginning of the many changes we are called to embrace and surrender to on our journey of faith. This change is a prelude to what God’s power can do in every areas of our lives if we are willing to surrender to the call to change.

Change is constant and important for the person who professes faith in Christ, for such a one must contend with and surrender their previous allegiance to many patterns and systems in/of the world (1 John 2:15-17). Especially patterns and systems which do not align with the Christ message of love of neighbor.

In light of this life-event that must of necessity be a continuous event, where, lately, have you changed beyond when you ‘first’ came to Christ? If the only change you can cite is when you first came to Christ, you are most likely still steeped in many unloving behaviors and attitudes towards your neighbors.

2/ Change is an intrinsic part of what it means to be human. Look around you. Read history and you will see that the one constant positive for the human race is ‘change.’ Change is constantly happening around us. Change which demands us to change attitudes, perspectives, how we do things, what we do, etc.. All of these are constantly occurring in nature, humanity and human systems (government, religion, education, politics, economics, etc.) whether people/societies profess faith in Christ or not.

This is a critical realization for our faith in Christ. If the change that comes when we first believe in Christ also happens to folks around us without their professed faith in Christ, does this not mean that change is a universal human trait and therefore, our faith should helps us embrace ‘change’ more?

Does this not mean that we should be open to changes in society that do not necessarily emanate from our religious circles?

Does this not mean that Christ-professing people and non-Christ-professing people have this positive trait in common and therefore, over which they can unite? Because these changes in the world all move humanity towards better love of neighbor and better appreciation for the gifts of creation?

The wisdom of God is all around us. Us, being all humans, whether or not they believe in Christ. It is extremely interesting that God does not limit the redemptive quality to/of change to only those who believe in Christ. This is beautiful! This is the love of the God whose love exceeds our every imagination!

As those who believe in Christ, be therefore, proactive in demonstrating an appreciation for change in systems, practices, patterns, etc., that help humans love their neighbors more, because what it means to be a believer is to be someone who believes in and yields to change for the love of neighbor, God and creation!

Change comes through learning and willingness to learn. How do you and your community demonstrate the acceptance of this spiritual dynamic of change in your willingness to learn new things and learn to do things in new ways so you can best model love of neighbor and creation?

This Advent season, reflect on the wisdom and love of a God who offers the same opportunities of change and transformation to everyone regardless of their faith or lack of faith in Christ. Reflect on the changes that have brought humanity this far and how many of them were situated outside the work of religious communities. Reflect that this God whom you worship and identify chooses to work non-discriminatorily in and with everyone: you; your neighbors who looks and believes like you and those one who don’t; your enemies; your friends; people of other religions; people without religion; rich people, poor people; college-educated people, non-college educated people….God’s work with humanity is extensive and non-discriminatory.

God’s love for the world extends to all of creation whether they believe in God or not. God’s gifts for the world extend to and are given to all whether they believe in God or not.

This is YHWH. This is the greatness of the God of Jesus Christ.

This is the beauty of accepting the gift of the Christ who was given to all humanity over 2,000 years ago.

This Advent season, prepare to recognize, embrace and participate in, promote and effect change all around you!

Stay with us at VOCCU as we affirm and celebrate the changes God is working around us and in the world.

Happy Advent 2022!

-Oghene’tega Swann

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