The Advent of Something Entirely New

The meaning of the word “advent” is the arrival of something notable—person, thing, or event. In Christianity, the birth of the Christ child is called the season of advent in celebration of the notable life of Jesus. What exactly was so notable about his life that so many celebrate it today? What have we gotten right in the remembrance of his life and what might we have possibly missed?

The life of Jesus was notable because he lived a life devoted to service. He is not the only person who ever lived who lived to serve others, however, so there must be something more. He died a self-less death, committed to communicating the truth of “God is love” and yet you see others who have done the same.

He is noted as the “sin-bearer”, taking on the dark karma of all who have lived. He obtained the keys of hell and death. He took up his life again. He built a bridge back to God. He is the “middle way” spoken of in all of the world’s great religions. He embodied and held the Christ power that makes a path of spiritual connection available to all who seek. Ah, here we see the uniqueness of the life of Jesus.

This is what Advent is really all about. It is a celebration of a pathway back to God made possible through the life of Jesus. The whole message of Christianity was to be to bring clarity to all of those who seek to know God and the summation of this is in all that we speak of as God’s law: To love God with your whole heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Love towards all, including the self, is the message of advent and is at the heart of Christianity.

How can it be that Christianity today is noted not for its inclusiveness and love towards all but more for its exclusiveness and contentious behaviors within its ranks? The teachings of Jesus give us a clue to how this might change.

In response to criticism from the religious leaders of the day about why Jesus’ disciples didn’t fast and why he ate with sinners and prostitutes, in other words, why was he so inclusive and accepting of everyone, Jesus replied by comparing his teachings and way of being and thinking as like a new wine that must be put into new wineskins. He says, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved”. (Matthew 9:12)

Here he reveals an important Gnostic teaching, and that is that the wine (the Christ blood or life power) must be put into a new container. One must give up the old paradigm and way of thinking (the old wineskin). It is impossible to hang onto an exclusive, ego-based way of relating to others and still embrace the teachings of Christ and be enabled to embody love towards all. New wine must go into new paradigms.

The Apostle Paul tells us that we must become new creatures. I believe that the reason Christianity struggles with exclusive, judgmental behaviors that are nothing like what is revealed in the teachings of Jesus, is that we try to put new wine into old wineskins. What you see as a result is a bursting of the wineskin (ruptured relationships with God, self, and fellow man) and a spilling of the wine (the beauty of an inclusive, all-encompassing, healing picture of God)

This Advent season what we most need is a new paradigm for holding the beauty behind the Advent message and that is Immanuel, God with us. The life of Jesus enabled us to experience the beautiful message of gnosis—Christ lives in you. For an indwelling Christ power we must have new wineskins. This is a paradigm where ego is the servant and our soul is inspirited with the Spirit of Love.

The wine is the life force and power of Spirit. Through spiritual practice and an opening of the heart and mind to God, we can be changed into new vessels that can hold the beautiful, tasteful wine of the Spirit and thus become a blessing and healing tonic to the world. May the true meaning and beauty of the Christ child bless and change you this Advent season.