With Advent now upon us, a season of preparation for the coming of the Lord, I have found myself wondering what Peace on Earth and good will toward men might look like on a global scale in a world more interconnected than ever before but still painfully disconnected on so many levels. In 2015 in the United States we can watch earthquake victims in Kathmandu valley dig out from under the rubble in real time. We can then send them aid even though many of the Americans who wire funds overseas to help said victims cannot place Nepal on a map. Flooding our social media newsfeeds are heartwarming videos about radical generosity (and kitty cats pawing at printers), uplifting us even if only for a few brief moments. We then scroll down a little further to see a flood of vituperative political memes and clickbait that appeals to our most carnal, depraved desires.
Advent is not just a time of preparation but a season of penitence. What does repentance, a truly penitent turning of the heart, and the ministry of reconciliation–that which the apostle Paul defines as “not counting their sins against them” (2 Cor. 5:18)–look like today? The very idea of repentance and reconciliation seems impossible given the grisly barbarism and nasty cultural divisions dominating the headlines, not least of which are the murderous rampages of Daesh and the cavalier disregard in the West for the most vulnerable among us. (I’m thinking of refugees and the unborn here).
But alas, the circumstances were not so different in the era in which the hinge of human history was born two thousand years ago.
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