Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
-4th Sunday of Advent, Book of Common Prayer
Okay. A quick word because I just couldn’t resist. (I’m in the middle of doing the Monday Morning Exegete, but today just screams for frequent breaks.) So, this is an eighth century prayer, because that’s how the Episcopal Church rolls, and here is this week’s take on it, directly from the Exegete:
Switching gears (the gearbox has the labels R, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and ∞) let’s take the mystic approach to the collect today. Shall we consider the possibility that the Second Coming of Christ is in fact a full manifestation of a world who has fully internalized the teachings of Christ when he was here the first time? What if we suspend our disbelief just long enough to suppose such a thing – where does that get us? (And for the sake of argument, I measure his teachings against the Summary of the Law on down, which says, essentially, Love God, Love Neighbor, Love Self & everything else is commentary.)
Well, it changes a few things. For one, ‘being a Christian’ would mean anyone trying to embody the teachings of Christ – which sounds more like a transformational way of being and less like a religion. (And an argument could be made that religion at its best is non-institutional, completely relational and a transformational track/way of being. I agree, and I also posit that this sort of religion is not widely found.)
Secondly, another common focus shifts: instead of a much-hoped-for post-death eternity with God, or even a post-apocalyptic heaven on earth, we’ve got the three-year-old I-Wanna-Be-Old-Enough-Now Syndrome. Which is to say that when we’re in ∞ Gear, we recognize that Christ is fully among us (the Second Coming) when we’re all, in our hearts and minds, acting like Christ. The first Christians really thought it might happen in their lifetime. And you know, it really might happen in ours. Will it? Who knows? The only thing we know is the only thing we can control – our very own selves. You and I, right now, can live this Christian life as fully as our imaginations can extend and we can do it right now. And we can fully expect that in the process of doing it, God will expand our imaginations, shape our dreams and require our trust in the midst of adventure, opportunity, danger and peril.