The Tenth Day of Advent
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9
January 21, 1930, was to be an historic day in the House of Lords. King George V would address delegates of the five great naval powers on disarmament. It was planned that his speech should be broadcast to radio listeners on both sides of the Atlantic. For this first-ever broadcast, a CBS studio in Manhattan would pick up the signal from a transatlantic cable and transmit the speech to radios in the United States and Canada. But just as King George was about to speak a visitor to the CBS studio tripped over and severed the wire to the generator that energized the entire broadcast. A local newspaper described what happened next:
Harold Vivien chief control operator for C.B.S. leaped for the parted wire and held the bare ends of the wire together in his hands until they could be twisted together. The full force of 220-volt current of high amperage burned and shocked him badly. (“The Brooklyn Daily Eagle”, January 21, 1930)
News reports hailed Harold Vivien a “hero” as in his burned hands he held together the severed wires for 20 minutes so that millions of people could hear King George’s speech.
As Harold Vivien joined together with his body that which had been severed, so God’s Son with His body took that which was broken, and thereby joined earth to heaven. The good news of the Incarnation is about sharing, about solidarity, about God’s identification with us. Theologian Kallistos Ware aptly said: “Christ shares to the full in what we are, and so he makes it possible to share in what he is, in his divine life and glory. He became what we are, so as to make us what he is… Christ’s riches are his eternal glory; Christ’s poverty is his complete self-identification with our fallen human condition.” (Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way) As Jesus is one with God by nature and one with us by taking flesh, so in Himself He has joined us to God.
The eternal Word became flesh to heal the rupture of earth and heaven. He left the “riches” of heaven to take up the “poverty” of our existence. William Barclay rightly points out that Christ’s giving of Himself for us did not begin at the cross or even at His birth. It began in heaven as He willingly laid aside His glory to give us what He is. (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible) The Son of God came to share in all that we are so that we might share in what He is. He gave up the riches of heaven to walk where we walk, to feel what we feel, and to share in all our weakness and struggle.
The saintly Eastern Church Father Gregory of Nazianzus beautifully preached the Son of God’s becoming “poor” to make us “rich”: “He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I gain the riches of his divinity. He who is full is made empty; he emptied for a brief space of his glory that I may share in his fullness.” (Gregory of Nazianzus, Sermon 45) The eternal Son of God became fully human to share with us nothing less than Himself and all of the life and glory He shares with the Father and Holy Spirit. He unites in His one person the human and divine natures.
Note the very personal touch in today’s Scripture; the Son of God did all of this for you: “for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” He traded places with you so that you might have His place in glory. He joined earth to heaven forever.
- What does it mean that through His poverty Christ has made you rich? In what sense has Christ made you rich?
- What did it cost Christ to make you rich?
- Take a few moments to talk with God about how Christ has made you rich.
EMBODIED PRAYER: KNEELING
“When the wise men found the baby Jesus, they knelt down and paid him homage” (Matthew 2:11). Many times throughout Scripture and the life of the church we find people kneeling to express their thoughts and feelings. English theologian David Peterson describes the impact of kneeling as we pray:
…an expression of inferior status and subservience to another person. Sometimes this obeisance was an indication of gratitude and sometimes it was associated with supplication or entreaty. Whatever the situation it was a recognition of total dependence of one party on another for the provision of some need…Sometimes it was associated with an outburst of praise, but sometimes the gesture itself appears to have been sufficient to express the trust and gratitude of those concerned. (David Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship)
Sometimes people kneel to pray:
- Eyes open
- Looking up
- Hands lifted upward
Sometimes people kneel to pray:
- Looking downward with eyes averted or closed
- Hands folded
Today and every day of the Second Week of Advent pray the Lord’s Prayer while kneeling.