by Roger Visker
In my devotions this morning I read Revelation 1. It begins “The revelation of Jesus Christ…” The word revelation means to be revealed or the unveiling of. Grasping or contemplating God is a huge undertaking. Further, the language of Book of Revelation seems to increase the degree of difficulty for contemplation exponentially. We try, we wonder, we hope, we examine, we pray, but we are quickly overwhelmed and contemplation of the God we love and want to serve seems beyond our grasp. Church father, Gregory of Nyssa says, “The knowledge of God is a mountain steep indeed and difficult to climb – the majority of people scarcely scratch its base.” Is it simply beyond us? Are we too broken, too deficient, too slow to contemplate anything of God?
I think not. Rather contemplation of God can be, should be, accessible to us daily, it can be a routine that draws us into the knowledge of God that takes up that “mountain” and helps us delight in the glory of the presence of God. Contemplation of God is not easily achieved because it happens outside our normal senses – seeing, hearing, feeling, etc. So what we do every minute of everyday has the effect of getting in the way of contemplating God. What we need is what Gregory of Nyssa calls “purification.” To clear away those senses and leave only that which leads us to Him. I would call this “silence and solitude.” The way up the mountain of the knowledge of God is accomplished when we can clear our hearts and minds of our cares and concerns of this world for a few moments, and open ourselves fully to Him. Sometimes this happens easily as it did for me today – in a few moments it was just God and me contemplating His glory and His wonder and his ridiculously extravagant love for me. Other times, even setting aside an entire day for contemplation of Him seems a fruitless exercise because I cannot free myself from all my stuff. Yet in fits and starts, ever so slowly, I have begun to climb the mountain as step at a time. Though I am “scarcely scratching its base” I am making progress.
As I am engaged in contemplation of God I have discovered that it is not a singular individual process I am called to. Rather contemplation of God is a together process, a “we” process. I cannot place another person into silence and solitude but I can, I must, encourage others along the way to do so. I must share my story for the sake of your story. I must offer my learnings of my ascent up the mountain, as meager as they may be, precisely because Christ did so for me. He who had everything, forsook it all so that He could become one of us and share with us a love so incredible that it saves our lives forever. If you want to contemplate the true meaning of Christmas this season, you will not find it in what you see, hear, or touch. Rather you will find it in the pondering of the incarnational gift so precious that we are brought to silence.