I invite you to light one single candle, a candle of Hope, as you read this meditation.
The days leading us to Christmas are not only about parties, Christmas cards, cookies, shopping, hustle and bustle; this is a sacred season for us to ground ourselves in the mystery and marvel of God coming to us in human flesh. The theological word here is incarnation, which I believe is one of the most important words for faith. God’s willingness, vulnerability, eagerness, prayerfulness, hope-filled-ness, unconditional love and unceasing grace enters this fragile/foible-filled vessel called, “human life”.
Just in case that doesn’t cause us to scratch and shake our heads (after all gods are supposed to be powerful and throw lightening bolts, right? Gods usually do not come upon earth in a form where you are susceptible to diseases in the body and dis-eases of the heart. Gods do not come upon earth where they could be crucified – but I am getting ahead of myself here in the story). God decided that God would come to earth in the form of a vulnerable infant.
And oh, by the way, God decides the God-bearer would be an unwed woman, Mary.
And oh, by the way, God’s grand entry is in a barn. I’ve been in barns, and not a Martha Stewart shabby-chic kind of barn. One with animals who smell and do animal-kinds-of things.
And oh, by the way, the only ones who will witness and testify to this marvelous miracle are shepherds who are seen by society not on the lowest rung of the economic ladder – they weren’t even allowed near the ladder in the first place!
What kind of story is this?
This is why we return to this sacred story year-after-year and discover/uncover something new. Each and every time we encounter this marvelous, mysterious story, we are in a new place to encounter one of the details in a life-giving and life-changing way.
This Advent we are centering around the question: what are you waiting for?
Depending on where you place the emphasis, you might evoke a different response. If you put weight on the first word, what, you might start listing events you are waiting for – like say a vaccine that could enable us to have in-person worship again with singing! If you put the weight on the word, “you”, you might dive and dwell deeply in what your soul is longing for. If you place weight on the word, “waiting”, I find myself pausing, leaning in, and listening to the truth that the world we inhabit doesn’t instantly and immediately microwave/text/tweet to resolutions. Waiting is about time. Waiting isn’t only about getting somewhere, or something done, it is about sensing God in the journey.
That is my prayer for Advent, we will wait together and discover anew that God is not only born in a barn…God is discovered in our hearts – even and especially – right now this year.
Prayer: O come, o come Emmanuel, may the doorway to my heart be open to you every day during this season of Advent. Amen.