二○一八十年十二月一日／十二月二日 Click here for English version
We are All Spiritually Poor
Rev Arnold Chow
We are all poor in spirit, seeking each day a taste of heaven.
Early this year, I was among a group visiting the Holy Land with my teacher in theological seminary. At a small church in Jerusalem built to commemorate the birth of Christ, our group began to sing without accompaniment the carol "Angels we have heard on high." The sensation I felt then was overwhelming. And it lingers to this day with the lyrics: "Gloria, in excelsis Deo! (Glory to God in the highest!)" It was heaven on earth.
While singing, I thought I could see the herald angels bringing good tidings to earth. The song deeply touched my heart. I realized the greatness of salvation as well as my personal unworthiness. I must admit that after that occasion, the intense feeling was not often felt again. Or, shall I put it this way: It seems that today, we are no longer touched by the story of Christmas. The reason is that we are all spiritually poor and easily immersed in the ocean of entertainment, news and information, goodies, and good food. We think we have everything but unknowingly, we no longer attach importance to the good news about the birth of the Son of God.
The Advent, which means "coming" and "arrival," is the liturgical season that precedes Christmas. During this season, in addition to preparations to celebrate Christ’s birth, believers are to prepare themselves in anticipation of and to face the second coming of Christ in the last days. But we the spiritually poor do not like anticipation and are reluctant to prepare. Small wonder that Christmastime has become just another festival. It is when we would probably spend time preparing for parties, shuttling among various stores to catch year-end bargains, or going on a trip for fun and relaxation. The most religious thing we do may be to go to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to listen to carols sung as well as to enjoy the atmosphere of Christmas.
The Lord Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).
We are all poor in spirit. Our vision is easily driven by a world of sensual pleasures, our thinking dominated by festive atmosphere. But what our hearts really desire is the heavenly kingdom. And it is exactly through poverty in spirit that the Lord’s wondrous salvation story can help us better realize our personal inadequacies and stimulate a longing for the truth.
As such, I think our best preparation during the Advent is to admit that we are poor in spirit, and to consciously train ourselves. We need to meditate on the descent of the Son of God to earth and rethink why it is immensely important good news. That will help a withering spiritual life regain irrigation from the living waters of Christ.
Let the good news of salvation wake up hearts bent on sensual pleasures. Before the chiming of Christmas bells, let our hearts once again prayerfully anticipate the return of the Lord Jesus Christ!
"Gloria, in excelsis Deo! (Glory to God in the highest!)"