Advent began yesterday; it is my favorite time of the year. During the season of Advent, we find out that we are pregnant with God, and the time to give birth arrives each moment we feel that life stirring inside of us.
Just like Mary, we ask, “How can this be?”
How can it be that God would take up residence inside this ramshackle body of mine, which is usually much more eager to prepare a place inside of it for good beer and dark chocolate?
Advent does not happen out there; we do not watch it from a distance. We experience it inside of us, this life that kicks and stirs and finally finds its way out of us and into the world. We do not initiate the light of the world, but we do carry it to term.
My friend Peggy calls these moments Jesus’ coming 1.5. There was the first coming, through Mary in that stable. And there will be the second coming, when Jesus comes to finally restore all things. But Advent reminds us that there are millions of moments in between when Jesus shows up in our world to be with us.
What does it mean that God has planted the divine inside of us, if it does not mean that we will give birth to all kinds of good in the world?
These moments are ordinary and come without much fanfare, just like the first one: There was a stable, a young couple in love, some cattle, and then the God inside Mary became God with us.
Last year, about this time, I went to visit a couple whose two day old baby was fighting for his life, hooked up to a breathing machine and a cobweb of tubes. I talked with them and listened to them, and as I did I saw their weariness mixed with their hope, and it was breathtaking.
And then an older woman walked in the room, and the new mother immediately said, “That’s my mother. She hasn’t left our side since this whole thing began.” And so this new grandmother filled her daughter’s water bottle, whispered a few words to her, and went to check on the baby. A few minutes later, an older man walked in the room, obviously the grandfather. His smile was the sun and his love for his daughter brightened that dark, sterile waiting room.
Can you see that God inside those grandparents became God with us in that hospital room?
One time, as I was tucking Elijah in for the night, I asked him to pray for me. I don’t remember ever asking him to do that before, but in the moment, I simply felt like I wanted him to do it. And so he put his hands on my back and began moving them around. And his four-year-old voice prayed ancient prayers to the God who is in him, already. And suddenly I experienced God with me.
Over the next four weeks, you and I have the opportunity to watch God inside us become God with us, if we simply show up and look up to those moments in which God wants to be born. These moments will come at coffee shops, in cubes, at parties, and at hospitals – and every dark place that needs light. All we need to do is make space for God to be born in us. How will you do that over the next four weeks?
Perhaps you will make space by driving in silence, versus filling that time with phone calls or music.
Perhaps you will wake up ten minutes early, and read the lectionary readings for the week.
Perhaps you will set an alarm at a given time each day, where you’ll walk away from your cube, and simply pray, “Lord, let it be done unto me, just as you say.”
Perhaps you will choose a random act of loving kindness once a day, remembering that Jesus came with “good tidings of great joy, which shall be for all people.”
Advent is a season to make space for God to come. It is a season to show up and look up. It is a season to celebrate the life of God being born in this world, again and again and again.
I’ll post each Monday during Advent (Dec 1, 8, 15, & 22). If you follow along, I’d love to hear how you’re making space for God!
Photo Source: My friend Doug took this picture. It’s incredible.