Pillar Journal
Vol. 5 No.1 / Advent 2022 - A seasonal journal produced by Pillar Church in Holland, MI to guide us through the Christian year.
Pillar Journal

How Beautiful the World Could Be


As a guiding instinct this Advent season, we’re borrowing from the title of a book by Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt, “How Beautiful the World Could Be.” He’s borrowing from psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. He writes:

“The Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl recounts a story from his experience in a Nazi death camp: ‘One evening, when we were already resting on the floor of our hut, dead tired, soup bowls in hand, a fellow prisoner rushed in and asked us to run out to the assembly grounds and see the wonderful sunset. Standing outside we saw sinister clouds glowing in the west and the whole sky alive with clouds of ever-changing shapes and colors, from steel blue to blood red. The desolate grey mud huts provided a sharp contrast, while the puddles on the muddy ground reflected the glowing sky. Then, after minutes of moving silence, one prisoner said to another, “How beautiful the world could be!”’

How beautiful the world could be!

That’s advent.

Advent. The word means “come,” it implies “wait,” it conjures “hope.” I don’t know about you but I long for “how beautiful the world could be.” I’m a bit fatigued by rehearsing all the ills that ail our world. You know them as well as I do. Rather, I’d like to speak hope.

I’d like to imagine “how beautiful the world could be.” Not as way of ignoring the violence and pain and hurt and injustices that wreak havoc in too many lives but as a way of inspiring action in this world in such desperate need of something so much more beautiful.

Can I tell you about the Pillarites who give so much time and so much energy and so many resources to the refugee families from Afghanistan living in West Michigan? How beautiful the world could be!

Can I tell you about the Pillarites who wake up everyday to live and love and serve in very local ways in schools and hospitals, in public service and neighborhood action that no one notices and never attract headlines but make for a much more beautiful world?

Can I tell you about the Pillarites who go out of their way so much of the time to raise children in the truth of God’s word and the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, who travel the world to announce the lordship of Jesus Christ, who humbly give of themselves in more ways than this journal can record so that the world might be as beautiful as God intends?

And it’s not just Pillarites it’s so many people in so many places longing, looking, waiting, hoping for the “muddy ground” to reflect “the glowing sky.” Advent. How beautiful the world could be!

What if we hoped together? What if hope turned into action? What if we were about “how beautiful the world could be?”

Reverend Brown, Advent 2022
Image: Beth Abdo

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