Advent Friendship Reflection, Day 19

In these daily Advent devotions, I have been reflecting on friendship, and the special kind of friendship that Jesus and the earliest believers participated in. Yesterday, I thought about Paul's understanding of Christian friendship in light of unity, having the "same mind" as Christ Jesus, who, as Paul elegantly explains,
though he was in the form of God,    did not regard equality with God    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,    taking the form of a slave,    being born in human likeness. (Phil 2:6-7).
Who is this Christ child that comes to us in the form of a slave? What children are born into human trafficking today, or held in cages, or born in circumstances beyond their control? What does the experience of enslavement reveal about humanity? What does it mean that the divine form takes on the form of a slave? How is this an expression of friendship to us? If we take on this "same mind," what kind of self-emptying may be required of us? We are reminded that Paul wrote the Philippians from prison. Can you for a moment imagine allowing yourself to be trafficked, held against your will, and sold to the highest bidder, so that you might be a true friend to another? What is the essential truth of the nativity story that we are reminded of in this season? Could it be that true friendship is premised upon our God taking on the human form, so that human dignity and identity--with all the joy and terror, wonder and contingency that are parts of our lives--might be preserved for all?

Each day of advent, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, I plan to post a few thoughts on an aspect of friendship I learned while writing my book, Virtuous Friendship: The New Testament, Greco-Roman Friendship Language, and Contemporary Community, available on Amazon through this link. This will be a chance for me to share with you all a little bit from what I learned, while giving you, hopefully, a chance to take a deep breath during this busy season and do some reflection. Also, you won't have to secure another resource for Advent. I realize that you are all at many different places with regard to faith and belief, so use these reflections however you see fit. If you'd be interested in having me come speak at your church, lead a Bible Study, or even just Zoom or Skype in for a Q&A with a Sunday School class or other small group, let me know: doug.hume@pfeiffer.edu.

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