Why don't you think of him as the one who is coming, who has been approaching from all eternity, the one who will someday arrive, the ultimate fruit of a tree whose leaves we are? What keeps you from projecting his birth into the ages that are coming into existence, and living your life as a painful and lovely day in the history of a great pregnancy? Don't you see how everything that happens is again and again a beginning, and couldn't it be His beginning, since, in itself, starting is always so beautiful? If he is the most perfect one, must not what is less perfect precede him, so that he can choose himself out of fullness and superabundance? Must he not be the last one, so that he can include everything in himself, and what meaning would we have if he whom we are longing for has already existed?
Looking back at this beautiful passage of Rilke, which I first heard quoted in an Advent sermon seventeen years ago by Laurens van der Post, I now think of Teilhard de Chardin’s idea of Christ as the Omega point of the universe of space and time, or as my friends in the Community of the Holy Spirit invoke the Trinity at the end of their chanting of the Psalms, “Source of all being, Incarnate Word, and Holy Spirit,” or as St. Paul wrote, “Source, Guide, and Goal.”
This idea of Rilke’s and de Chardin’s, that came to me through Sir Laurens those many years ago, is helpful for us, living today with problems that seem quite disconnected to a Christ who came only at a moment in time past. The perils of our planet are unprecedented, and thus we need a Christ who of this complex now. As this Christ comes to us in the present and in the culminating future, he is born always connected to the needs of the world now and to come. That is, this Christ is one who is able to heal the suffering of this world.
Come, Savior Christ, be born to us today. Amen.