Advent reminds me of Dostoevsky’s famous maxim from “The Idiot,” that beauty will save the world. Except I would say that the beauty of Advent will save the world because I am reminded of the beauty of God in Christ, and how beautiful the Church could be. If we were to commit our lives to discern and bear witness to the presence of Christ through an active embodiment of what we proclaim as true and good we would display a life-altering beauty.
I think about it this way. The Christian Church holds it to be true that all are made in God’s image and every human from every nation is of divine intrinsic worth. Therefore, a particular kind of love, namely the kind of self-giving love seen in Christ, for neighbor and enemy alike, is the only acceptable good. Fear, hatred, retributive justice and violence are not.Another way I think about it is like this. The Christian Church holds it to be true that all are loved, pursued and welcomed by God the Father who is able to redeem all things and refused to abandon us to our own death-dealing ways. Therefore, welcoming and embracing all people no matter their past or present, ideology or religion, ethnicity or sexuality, is the only acceptable good.
Advent reminds me that a community of people who claim to know truth and what is good should embody its proclamation by practicing self-giving love that reasons with the world through faithful presence, humble rhetoric and if need be, courageous martyrdom—never by coercive force. I would suggest that if it doesn’t, it does not hold tightly to the truth and its proclamation of what is good lacks credibility.
The Christian Scriptures remind those who are to be guided by them that before truth is to understood as a proposition or position, it must be understood as a Person–Jesus, who claimed to be the Way, the Truth and the Life.¹ Jesus as the Word Incarnate is what God has to say to humanity. We would do well to listen and interpret all other propositions and positions in light of what we see in Him.²
Jesus is the embodiment of all that is true, good and beautiful. May His Church be faithful and by His Spirit put His truth, goodness and beauty on display for all to see.
¹ John 14:6
² John 1, 14; 5:39; Colossians 1:1-20, 27-28, 2:2-3, 9
Fred came to serve greater Williamsburg and WCC as lead pastor in October of 2010 and is grateful to be a part of the family. He is a husband, father, certified trauma professional, S.T.A.R. (strategies for trauma awareness & resilience) practitioner, community organizer, TEDx alum, founder of 3e Restoration, Inc. and co-owner of Philoxenia Culture LLC. He received his B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and his Master’s of Religious Education in Missional Leadership from Rochester University. Currently he is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology in at Northern Seminary in Chicago. Fred has also served as an adjunct professor for Rochester University and Regent University where taught courses in philosophy, ethics, leadership, pastoral care, intro to Christianity, and ethnography. He has also served as a guest lecturer on the subjects of racialized cultural systems, poverty, and missiology at various universities, such as William & Mary and Oklahoma Christian University. Fred has authored on book (Racialized Cultural Systems, Social Displacement and Christian Hospitality) and several curriculum offerings, including The FloorPlan: Living Toward Restoration & Resilience.
Fred enjoys hanging out with his family anytime, anywhere. He is deeply grateful for how God graciously works through the Church in all her various forms, despite our brokenness. He is passionate about seeing the last, least, and lonely of every neighborhood, city and nation experience God’s in-breaking kingdom, and come to know Jesus as King. Oh, and his favorite season is Advent and Christmas.
Fred is a founding member of the board of directors for Virginia Racial Healing Institute, a member of the leadership team for Williamsburg's local chapter of Coming to the Table, and a member of Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network's Racial Trauma Committee and Training Committee.