In last week’s post, Advent, Yoga, & Maya, we considered how the practice of yoga helps to draw back the veil of Maya, allowing us to see the world more clearly, perceiving the whole picture of what God is doing in the world.
During the Advent season, Christians are invited to recall the past, awaken to the present, and anticipate the future. We are reminded that there is a bigger story being told, and we are living in the “time between”.
The season of Advent can be traced back to the fifth and sixth century when Christians first began to establish a specific period of time to prepare themselves for the Christmas season. Advent, throughout the universal Church, consisted of making preparations such as the use of special decorations, music, and readings, as well as implementing the disciplines of fasting and prayer to help “make room” in the hearts and minds of believers for what was to come. Interestingly, the word “advent” is derived from the Latin word “adventus” which literally translates as “coming”.
But what is coming? Why do we count down the days? For what are we making room? What are we preparing ourselves for? Why are we waiting?
Advent is the season of readying ourselves for Jesus Christ to come into the world.
Advent is a time of looking back to remember the first coming of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the Advent season, believers are encouraged to recollect what God has done throughout history. From the origins of Genesis, to the culmination of Jesus Christ, we are called to remember God’s graciousness to his people. Emmanuel, God with us…
During Advent, we are reminded that the Israelites were the original “Advent people”, waiting patiently and expectantly for the promised Messiah. The birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of this promises, and the beginning of God’s ultimate plan to heal the world; reuniting heaven and earth. Through Jesus, humankind was rescued from the power of darkness, and reconciled back to God as sons and daughters. In Christ, the Divine clothed itself with the flesh of humanity and established the first in the line of a restored humanity. Through Jesus, we can see the original design for our hearts and the intended shape of our lives.
Even more, when we look back to the manger, we are given insight into the nature of our Heavenly Father. He was satisfied to be born in the most desperate of situations, the most meager of places. Poor, powerless, hunted, humble, and cast-aside, these are the circumstances which the Creator of the Universe chose for his entry point into this world. Our God does not look past, or avoid, dark and messy places. It is in those exact circumstances that God chooses for his Love to be born in the world. Advent calls us to remember the first “coming” of the Christ-child in the manger.
As we look back to the first coming of Christ, we are infused with HOPE for the future. God is faithful, his Word is true, and we are living in the midst of his story. Through the first coming of Christ, we are assured that God is with us, even in times of trouble and He is on the move. We can gaze into the darkness of this world with a BOLD HOPE, for God’s presence is with us, and He is working out his story in this world.
Advent reminds us of that there is more to this world than meets the eye and asks us to see with eyes of our hearts. For the Christian, yoga fosters the ability to move the veil of Maya aside, encountering the present moment not only through our physical eyes, but in light of God’s promises for the future. Through the practice of yoga, we embrace our unique positioning of being physically grounded here on earth while already being established in eternity.
As we look back to what God has done, we can look forward to what God is doing and will do with new eyes. Preparing for the coming of Christ, we make room for the birth of Christ even now, which we will discuss in next week’s post. Until then, we are invited to look back to the first coming of Christ and reflect:
- How does the first coming of Christ change our perceptions of the messy places, relationships, and people in our lives?
- Do we view the darkness around us as full of promise and light?
- Are we open to be surprised by God? For God to be born in the most unlikely places in our lives?
Pranayama breath prayer for Peace this week from John 1:5:
Inhale: The light shines in the darkness,
Exhale: and the darkness has not overcome it.
Holy Spirit teach us to “see” that which is not seen, and to “hear” your still small voice. Move illusions aside to help us to see you more clearly. Awaken us to your presence in the dark places, right here, right now. Assure us of your promises. Emmanuel, God with us…