Of all the language that surrounds Christianity and Jesus, the way we talk about the Gospels and our mission on earth, the language that I find most compelling is that of subversion and change from the underground. Revolution language has always been captivating. It speaks of the common person, the low man on the totem pole who longs for a better life. Revolution always seems to emphasize the lifting up of the lowly, the downtrodden, the oppressed. The rich and in charge don’t revolt.
No wonder Jesus’ message attracted people who hoped for violent revolt against Roman rule. Jesus’ first public message in Luke 4 has all the ingredients of revolution-liberation of the captive, good news for the poor. Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution does a beautiful job painting the picture of our non-violent lover and revolutionary Jesus. Conspire Magazine is doing the same thing, giving a sense of the dirty, smallness of our movement with Jesus.
The popular movement Advent Conspiracy speaks in the same language. Somehow, the story of Christmas is not just a cute story about a baby wrapped in Old Navy clothes, but about how a refugee infant challenged the political reign of the day. The story has all the makings of a good conspiracy-late night getaways, hiding out, even a violent reaction by Herod.
But what’s so revolutionary about Advent? What is so subversive about waiting?
As I learned last year around my expecting housemate, pregnancy is the most tangible way to understand what Advent tries to get us toward–a sense of impatient longing and desire for new creation, new life. The pain and urgency in the last weeks of carrying a child a remarkably visceral, I remember an embodied sense of frustration and expectancy. We needed that child to come. But again, what is so revolutionary about that?
Revolution is all about “power to the people.” But the Advent revolution teaches us to wait for divine power, which is weakness, to bring about the new creation. Waiting for the true king instead of giving in to the false power of the world is astounding, it is unbelievable, it has absolutely no sex appeal. Nobody is impressed by it. It’s slow, it doesn’t happen all at once, and rarely happens in large chunks. It’s revolutionary because its leader is the lowliest of all human beings–an infant.
God is conspiring, always conspiring, “plotting goodness” as some say, “holy mischief” as Shane says. It’s captivating. There’s a sense of mystery, especially when we realize that Jesus is the plot, the underground movement to save creation from its suffering.
I love Advent.