December 22 Magnify

From the Psalms: “O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together.” It is not as simple as that in our exciting news-filled, noise-filled world. We try to make everything easy to do because we are so busy trying to make everything easy to do. Since it is the time of Advent, let us use Christmas as an example. As John Gering writes, “It’s tempting to turn Christmas into a safe holiday that asks little of us. But that would ignore the prophetic, subversive life of Jesus.” We exchange our gifts, eat our Christmas feasts with maybe a prayer first, drink our wine, and then move on preparing for the new year celebration.

I think back to my study of the Desert Christians of the first through fourth centuries. First were the desert monastics who escaped to the desert persecuted by Rome before and after Christianity became the state religion of Rome. When Rome adopt Christianity as a state religion, all Roman citizens were declared Christians. I sometimes think that we still serve this Christianity. Then there were those who migrated back to the deserts for a life of meditation, a life of prayer. These Christians emulating the teachings of Jesus had no church built for them; they lived a true prayerful and meditative life.

This is the Christianity we need to magnify; this is the type of Christian I yearn to be. Jesus spent forty days in the desert just prior to his three-year ministry which we love and cherish. We also retreat to the desert to learn, to meditate, to study, to pray. This desert is the darkness within us. It is the spiritual darkness where we meet God, where we meet the light that Jesus brought. This is the desert where we try to better ourselves, living and walking the path to God. This is the desert that as we emerge from it, we gain the spiritual gift of life, eternal life that we live with God. We magnify this life, not be closed to others, but to open ourselves, greeting all as equal brothers and sisters searching. . . searching. This is the life that when found magnifies the living God within us. This is the life of the children of God in all its magnificence.

© Russell Kendall Carter

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