The Life of the World to Come

In honor of Christmas (a season that according to the liturgical calendar of many western churches only began yesterday), I thought I would write this post to demonstrate how the last line of the Nicene Creed, which states, “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come”  explicates the significance of this season.

I remember once, upon hearing the last part of the line above, having a mild epiphany wherein I realized that Christians should constantly be looking for such life to presently manifest itself. In this manner Christianity waylays the temptation to be a “pie-in-the-sky, opiate of the masses”, because it encourages Christians to not  just endure the present life for some heavenly hereafter, but rather it calls them to be engaged in the world looking for ways to be involved in how the world to come is currently manifesting itself.

In this light, Christmas is the season wherein we celebrate the first manifestation “of the life of the world to come.” Moreover, by celebrating Christmas we sharpen our sensibilities to discern the subtle and often paradoxical ways that God is currently bringing this life into the world, just as he did 2,000 years ago when a baby, the embodiment of human dependency, was born to a marginalized people in some remote back country of the Roman Empire.

2 Responses to “The Life of the World to Come”

  1. Roger Green  

    You may have mentioned this before, but I was wondering what you thought of the early church co-opting the pagan solstice events for the birthday, when most people I’ve read peg Jesus’ birth in March.

  2. Anthony Velez  

    Wait, what… Jesus was born in March!?!? What kind of revisionist stuff are you reading?

    Okay, really, I think that the baptizing of culture, which is to say the appropriating of local rites and customs of various cultures and giving them new meaning was an ambivalent evangelistic strategy. On the one hand it gave the Church a means to readily connect with new people groups and ease the transition to a new faith, on the other hand it put the faith at risk for syncretism.

    Theologically, I think that structuring time upon a narrative to develop a rhythm and reinforce the vision and values of that narrative is deeply human, and one of the ways we rightly exercise dominion over the elements of nature. Sure, often the times selected to celebrate certain significant events don’t align with when the events actually happened, but for me to get hung up about actual dates when it comes to religious celebration is to capitulate to the sensibilities of modernism. Certain events are innately significant, and it is important spiritually to acknowledge such events, but it is not so important that we nail down the actual dates in acknowledging such events.