The Jewish people were obviously startled to hear Jesus predict [Luke: 21: 5-6] that the Temple would be destroyed, “not a single stone to be left upon another”. No doubt they thought that one of the benefits of having the Messiah among them was that He would protect the Temple. Jesus however, as we now know, came to establish the Temple in the heart of every Christian who embraced the good news. It would no longer be a stone edifice but rather a part of the heart of each Christian. As a Christian each and every one of us, as a Member of the Body of Christ [the “Church”], experiences the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and to the extent that we recognize and respond to this reality we begin to experience the “Kingdom of God [or of “heaven’] now in this life.
As we prepare for Advent, which begins tomorrow, we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the anniversary of the coming of our Saviour [the “Incarnation”] over 2000 years ago. What a wonderful opportunity this is for each of us to welcome Jesus again into our hearts. We might use the days of Advent to refurbish our hearts that God might find a welcoming abode within which to reside.
Advent is a time to be filled with new hope and new courage. Our liturgical readings move from the “last things” to a “new dawn”. In these readings we anxiously await the arrival of the Messiah. It is surly a time for each of us to reassess our commitment to our Christian vocation. Have the distractions and worries of our lives reduced the space in our hearts for Jesus? Has the abode become smaller and smaller as our hearts take on the imperatives of the world? Inhabiting the Kingdom of God means, among other things, that we nourish our personal relationship with God and allow grace to transform us. We are called into intimacy with our Creator. As that intimacy grows we take on the character of God. As God begins to rule in our hearts, others who connect with us will come to know Him.
Make it a priority this Advent to spend time with Jesus in prayer. Set aside at least 10 or 15 minutes each day to consciously be in His presence and invite Him to help you discern how he wants you to bring others to Him. You might pray the prayer of Aspiration:
Jesus, thank you for living this moment in me!
Every breath—I unite my life to your Spirit as a prayer.
Every heartbeat— I unite with Your heart of Limitless Love.
Every experience— I unite with your Merciful Presence, —
Surrendering all feelings, thoughts, joy, & pain—resting entirely
May this Christmas fortify the reign of Jesus in our hearts as we refurbish the Temple within.