COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Reflections on Advent – Witness to the Arriving Christ



7 December 2011

Advent –
Witness to the
Arriving Christ

[Note: The
release below is the third in the Colombia team’s four week Advent series,
which develops out of CPT’s work with local peacemakers in Colombia.  Each
release in the series will reflect on the following Sunday’s Gospel
reading. Please read and share with your family, friends, co-workers, and
faith community.]      

John 1:6-8; 19-28

There was a man sent from God, whose name
was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might
believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to
the light.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from
Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but
confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you
Elijah?” He said ”I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then
they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What
do you say about yourself?”

He said, “I am the
voice of one crying out in the wilderness,’Make straight the way of the Lord’”,
as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you
baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John
answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not
know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong
of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was

Witness To The
Arriving Christ

by Caldwell ‘Carlos’ Manners

Life stands as the central theme in John’s gospel (John 20:31), and it is in
and through the incarnate Christ that this life of abundance is manifest and
brought  into reality (John10:10). It is in this overarching theme that
the narrator compels us into a world of contesting powers —  transports us through time to the beginning,
when all things came into being. The one journeying from heaven to earth is
rejected by his own and is forced to embark on conferring childhood rights to
all those who believe in him- — stirring contrasting images: the violator and
the violated, the powerful and the powerless, the colonizers and colonized. It
is in these spaces and dimensions of travel, as it unfolds throughout the
gospel that we like John are witnesses. (1)

I remember my first impressions of travelling through the Colombian landscape,
rural or urban: it was difficult to notice the continuing legacy of the
brutality and  violence of the conflict of the last half century in a
location so stunningly beautiful.

This is where the contesting images and narratives of progress continue to
drown the cries of justice through the continual violation of the land and its
inhabitants in the mix of militarism and business. In these locations the
narrator of John draws us to travel, to witness to the life arriving.

The community from Las Pavas finds itself once again in the spaces of
contesting  powers. They were displaced by brutal paramilitary forces in
2006, displaced again by Daabon, a palm oil company in 2009, and lived a
miracle of return earlier this year. Now they’re being accused of being liars, “false
 as the prosecutor general calls them. This incident cannot be understood as an
isolated event but as a reflection of the state of the 5 million displaced
peoples demanding justice, and now communities that still have possession of
their lands are resisting, hoping that they will not be next .The process of dispossession and displacement works only with roots that run
deep into the heart of the powers.

John stood as a witness awaiting the coming Christ in a time where the Roman
occupation alliance ran deep into the heart of the temple powers profiteering
from the powerless and the most vulnerable. It was also here that he witnessed
to hope: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make
straight the way of the Lord.”

The communities we accompany have deeply impacted me by their profound
understanding of life, the witness to hope that is brought forth in their
struggle for justice  —  and the testimony of the ordinary day is
the most profound response to the disruptive violence and death.

The profound contrast in the invitation to witness lies at the end of the
story.  John is executed but life
arrives. The anticipation of the coming Lord fills me with both deep sadness
and profound joy — in death we find life, in losing it we find it —
necessitating our response. The fierceness for life in the faces of the
communities is the witness to the coming Christ, it is the embodiment of the life

In these paradoxes is where you and I travel. To witness alongside our partners
in the violent spaces of power to the hope that is arriving, to be in
solidarity with, and to witness: “I am the voice of one crying out in
the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.”

To love. To be loved. To never forget
your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and
the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To
pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate
what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try
and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget. – Arundhati

Let Us Pray

Spirit of God, You are Love
teach me the art of loving my sisters and my brothers,
to listen to their needs and take care of them,
to be just and merciful every day of my life  while waiting for the
glorious coming
of the Lord Jesus.

Spirit of God, You are Lord and Giver of
Deliver me from sin and despair, of half-heartedness
and anything else that prevents me from living fully
as a true child of God, while waiting for the glorious coming of the Lord

Spirit of God, You are the Teacher
Remember the words of the Carpenter of Nazareth
and teach me his ways to live according to his will, while waiting for his
coming at the end of time.

Spirit of God, You who reveals the Truth
deliver me from all obscurity and error
and help me understand the Good News of Hope while I await the glorious
of Jesus Christ.

Spirit of God, You who prays in us
with sighs unimaginable,
Put a cry on our lips: “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Put a hope in our hearts: “The Lord will come.”
May the Lord come to us, today and forever.

We await his coming in glory.
We await your salvation and everlasting life you promise us. Amen.


1 See Dube, Musa and Jeffery Statley, John and Postcolonialism: Travel, Space and Power. Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.


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