Sunday, November 28, 2010
Subverting the Secular World - by Tony Clavier
Subverting the secular world;
beginning a new year.
We have to tackle a number of years.
There’s the school year, the secular year,
the shopping year, and the poor neglected
church year. In a sense we live in all of them, and
keeping our feet planted in each reality is no easy thing. All too often we only remember that the church
has a year when we look at the bulletin on Sunday and try to figure which Sunday after what we are in.
Of all these years, the Christian year presents the greatest challenge. It reminds us that we are citizens
of another place and owe our allegiance to another ruler. The early Christians were persecuted and killed
because they claimed that “Jesus is Lord.” Perhaps today we are regarded as rather eccentric when we
whisper the same words. They remind us that our faith is no private, personal thing, but that we are citizens
of the kingdom of God.
We are subversive. We seek to bring the love of Christ into the secular
world because we believe that ultimately the world will be restored
to God. In the meantime, we work and pray to transform what is into
what shall be.
Advent Sunday begins yet another year. It sets our sights on the miracle
of Christ’s birth, that God invaded this planet in the form of a helpless
child. This vulnerable God walks with us, takes our flesh, re-creates the
human race, suffers, dies and so is in all our sufferings and in our deaths.
He rises again giving us the hope of resurrected life in a new heaven and a
We perhaps moan about a secularized Christmas that begins before
Thanksgiving and ends abruptly on the day after Christmas. Rather
than moaning, we can meet the challenge it presents. We can be subversive
by keeping Advent in holy preparation. We can keep Christmas by
observing the twelve days in joy, gratitude and compassion for God’s poor
and needy, rather than throwing out the tree on December 26!
Above all we can humble ourselves before the baby who is King, and
offer him our lives in obedience and hope.
The Rev. Tony Clavier is rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, La Porte, in the
Diocese of Northern Indiana.