Thursday, December 2, 2010

A YouTube Advent Calendar: December 2

The breakers of death rolled over me,
and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.
The cords of hell entangled me,
and the snares of death were set for me.
I called upon the LORD in my distress
and cried out to my God for help.
He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling;
my cry of anguish came to his ears. 
-          Psalm 18

What is salvation? Many people limit their imaginations by imagining salvation merely as something that may occur when you die. But Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” By no means does this point to the currently popular “prosperity gospel” that insists Jesus wants to make you rich!

Rather, Jesus wants us to be able to live a life of wholeness, acting out of a realization that we are loved and wanted. Our fellow humans are bearers of this godly sacrament when they are in relationship with us, when they make themselves vulnerable to us.

Get a group of friends together to watch the 1999 film Magnolia, which the Internet Movie Database describes as “an epic mosaic of several interrelated characters in search of happiness, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.” From the soundtrack of that film, our YouTube clip of the day is “Save Me” by Aimee Mann.

I heard this quote once from an unknown source: “You can kill a man with a gun, or you can kill him with an apartment.” One of the biggest plagues of American society during the holidays is loneliness. Extreme individualism and a worship of self-reliance have decimated the lives of millions of people. Are we merely a collection of individuals, eking out a little sliver of sanity in a crazy world? How will you work against the demon that whispers that you don’t actually need anyone else?

If we are Christ’s hands and heart in the world, then we are also instruments of salvation. We don't get to decide who needs saving, but we can remain open to the Holy Spirit's potential use for us in any given situation. What might it mean to throw in your lot with “the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone”?

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