Joy of Heaven, to Earth Come Down
“I am eager to encounter the God who reconciles everything in heaven and on earth, and who is ready to meet us in every moment.”
The seasons of Advent and Christmas invite us to expect the holy in every aspect of our lives. Because of the Incarnation, all creation is filled with the presence of God. The reflections and Scripture passages in Joy of Heaven, to Earth Come Down call us to a daily practice of prayer grounded in reverence for the earth and to intentional living in harmony with the natural world. After the first edition of the book sold out, a second edition was updated and made ‘evergreen,’ so that the book can now be read in any Advent, regardless of the date of the First Sunday of Advent.
Third Monday of Advent
…Become participants of the divine nature. — 2 Peter 1:4
Can we learn to love as God loves? Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, in his book I and Thou, lures us to try: “Let us love the actual world that never wishes to be annulled, but love it in all its terror, but dare to embrace it with our spirit’s arms — and our hands encounter the hands that hold it.”
Let us love the actual world — not our fantasies about the world, not our ideas, opinions, judgments, or memories, but the actual world. It never wishes to be annulled any more than we ourselves wish to be annulled.
Let us love it in all its terror — and not just its terror. I substitute other words sometimes, depending on what’s going on. Can I love the world in all its boredom? Its pettiness? Its violence, turmoil, and imperfection? That’s the challenge: to accept reality as it is, for that’s how God knows it – as it is. Only from that stance of clear seeing and acceptance can I begin to sense how love may lead me to change something.
So I ask myself — what would it be like to love fully in this moment, whatever the moment holds? Jesus didn’t withdraw from the world in safe isolation. The Jesus that we meet in the Gospels didn’t tune out, space out, or close down. He didn’t get so busy or crazed that he barreled through the day without noticing what was around him. Instead, he encountered every situation as it was, meeting it with love. Even when it cost him everything, he dared to love, anyway.
That is why, when we love the actual world that never wishes to be annulled, but love it in all its terror, but dare to embrace it with our spirit’s arms — our hands encounter the hands that hold it.
“Open wide your hearts.” — 2 Corinthians 6:13
Copyright 2012 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Joy of Heaven, to Earth Come Down (96 pp/paper, ISBN 9780880283410) was published by Forward Movement, but in 2023 it is out of print. Check online book sellers or used book stores to see whether copies may still be available for purchase.