Becoming Empty
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he existed 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.”
Philippians 2:5-7
If you haven’t already heard it at least 27 times by now in this season, the word “advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “arrival” or “coming.” We celebrate Advent as preparation for the coming of Christ: the coming of Christ long ago in Bethlehem, the coming of Christ anew in our hearts, and the coming of Christ at the fulfillment of all time.
But what we usually fail to recognize in that first coming is that, to come to Earth, Christ had to leave behind his heavenly abode and his heavenly way of being. And as St. Paul so eloquently scripted and which is quoted above, to wear human flesh, God had to “empty himself” of all of what made him God. This means leaving behind all the aspects of what made God God. Just to lower himself to become human. A deliberate decision was required; a tangible action was taken. All to give up the advantages of “equality with God” for kinship with humans.
Some have referred to this as Christ’s self-giving or self-emptying, or kenosis as it is translated in the original Greek text. If the life of a Christian is to follow the way of Jesus, what does self-emptying look like for us? It means to take the attention off us. It means to put our neighbors before ourselves. It means to live our lives with humility. It means to lay down our lives for others … whether that be physically or metaphorically.
How could you be of “the same mind” as Christ Jesus or “adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus” as the Common English Bible puts it? What would “self-emptying” look like in your life?  
The Rev. Sharron L. Cox
Associate for Outreach, Pastoral Care and Women's Ministries
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