Monday, November 28, 2005

The Purpose Driven Death....

As this year's advent season dawns I've found myself pondering the spaces where the dusk and twilight of life reside in falling shadow. Perhaps it is my melancholic nature that so inclines me, or maybe its because every holiday season naturally brings to mind the people who are no longer a living part of my life history. I suppose its probably both of these things, since they can never really be separated. At any rate, as we lit the advent candle symbolizing hope last night, I found myself reflecting on the extraordinarily paradoxical nature of this hope that we yearly celebrate. And as I thought about it, I determined that it is the hope that lies on the other side of the glorious birth of the king that to me makes it so paradoxical; the side where the slaughter of the innocents resides, the flight into Egypt as refugees, and the tender scene of the young Jesus (bringing a sacrificial lamb?) at the temple in Jerusalem with his parents during Passover. It is a hope that from the beginning was rooted in the realization and awareness that wherever life is breaking out and is blossoming, death is always necessarily present. And it is in this sense more than in any other that we know that it is not a false, illusory, or deluded hope. We are able to rejoice in an event that caused such immense heartbreak and hardship to so many, precisely because we know that in God's economy death has indeed become the very way to life. We celebrate because we know that God has mysteriously united both the living and dying dimensions of life in this baby king. The hope that we have during this advent season is a hope that is so robust mainly because it reminds us that the cost of any life is death (whether it be spiritual,emotional,physical,financial,political), and that God has made this price worth paying through the inimitable example of the one who gladly surrendered his life in order to show us the way to a purpose driven death. And this is no small thing in a world where death often seems so senseless, cold, absurd, and random. God has given us a gift so precious that its worth dying to possess it; and this is what truly makes life worth the living. So, as we celebrate advent season this year, we would do well to remember all those people who pursued a purpose driven death so that we might be able to know the deeper mysteries of God's love and the purpose of our live's in this world. What "lamb" is it that God wants us to bring to the temple as we "grow up" with our Lord?

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