Early on in this kind of new but kind of old adventure of church that we call missional communities in London someone suggested that we look for groups. Groups of people into whom the good news of Jesus might be planted. I don’t think we’ve been brilliant at this but I keep looking for groups.
There are a lot of groups.
Groups of mums, groups of kids, groups of school children, groups of football supporters, groups of workmen. Groups from the offices going for their lunch, groups in coffee shops talking and laughing. Awkward groups forced into being by the queue/lift/mode of transport they’re in. Groups of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus. Groups chatting in their common language…lots of groups and each, as they come together, become a mixing bowl being filled with all the ingredients of community. In amongst all those relationships a phenomenon greater than the sum of its’ parts begins to rise.
At we read the Christmas accounts there are so many groups and levels of community to observe. Shepherds, Wise men, Angels, the families of Mary and Joseph, all those on the road for the census, all those crammed into Bethlehem. Then, as we pan out there is the whole of Judaea including it's Roman armies and all the other traders and migrants who made up groups in that province. Pan out again and we see the whole of the Roman Empire from Spain in the west to Judaea in the east and Northern Africa to the south to mid-Germany in the north. Pan out once more and we realise that much of the world was still tribal (from a Western worldview ‘undiscovered’ would be the world). Native Indian tribes in North America, various tribal civilisations rising and falling in South America. The Han Dynasty in China which was largely unknown to the Roman Empire at that time. Tribes across Africa, Germanic tribes in Northern Europe, Aboriginal peoples of Australia….the community of humanity at the birth of Jesus was made up of a lot of groups, some large and many small.
Into the midst of all of these groups, the Saviour is born.
The Son of God is miraculously sent to grow, walk and save at the grassroots of the world. He came to us, chose us first, moves into our groups. But in the midst of this massive movement of God’s energy and life which hurtles to be birthed on earth in Jesus the Christ, there is also movement in the opposite direction. Jesus opens up a gateway back to where he came from. He opens a way into the first group of all, the community of origin, the Holy Trinity, the Triune God. It is in Jesus that we encounter the primal hospitality of God who cries out “Come into me!” and yet, at the very same time, "I am with you!”
The word advent comes from two Latin words, ‘ad’ which means ’to’ and ‘venir’ which means ‘come’. At the very heart of this season is God’s invite to come into his communal life, the community of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Can you hear it? Jesus says ‘come, follow me’, be in my presence, my family, my unique group.
And so it is that Jesus is the saving yeast that is poured into the mixing bowls of our groups that we might become part of the original community of all. In Him we find the advent of community for all the tribes of the world. In Him we hear the call 'come and see', 'come and follow', 'come and rest'. In Him we are transformed into something far more than we thought we were and into everything we were brilliantly created for.