It’s that time of year again!
This Sunday heralds both the 1st December and the first Sunday of Advent in traditional church calendars. The season of journey and expectation, with a whisper of hope to a weary world, heavily burdened. The anticipation of God coming to earth as a tiny baby – so that we could have someone who we know truly understands what it is like to be us. Knows what it is to be human, with all it’s wonderful possibilities, with all it’s heartache, struggles and pain. Our God, Creator of the Universe, King of Eternity chose to come to ‘do life’ alongside us.
It is possibly my favourite time of year.
‘The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.’ John 1:14 – The Message
In the midst of the frenetic season of Christmas shopping and ridiculous levels of consumerism – where shops play festive pop tunes all day, every day from the first of December (if not before) – and where every product competes for our money, promising breakthrough/joy/peace/success/popularity/sex/fulfillment – I am always struck by the incredible madness, the simplicity and generosity of the incarnation.
That God, who is EVERYTHING would confine himself to our vulnerable, limited body, when he is not hindered by time or space.
That He didn’t just beam down to earth as a powerful, fully formed adult, but instead chose to be completely reliant on his earthly parents as a helpless baby, submitting to and learning from them.
That He climbed down into our well of confusion, pain, mess, heartache, depravity and distortion with us and kept us company, before showing us the way and lifting us out – it is mind-blowing.
Selah. Pause, reflect.
God thought that you and I were important enough, precious enough, valuable enough, to let go of everything that kept him separate, in his glory and perfection, from us in our sinfulness and shame. He thought that we were worth getting his hands dirty for, getting ridiculed, abused, beaten and killed for. He thinks that YOU were worth being vulnerable for. So he allowed himself to love us, up close, personally, whilst we had NOTHING to offer him in return. So that we might know just how much we mean to him and be in relationship with him.
The readings at mass this Sunday, are full of hope and urgency.
Urgency that we wake up, let go of the darkness in our hearts and lives, that we cling to. Buried under a million different stresses, choices and selfish attitudes, God is calling us to lean on Him, let Him take the strain and watch our backs.
Calling us to walk in the light of His love and truth.
Hope because we have someone who is more than capable of bearing the weight of us, and all we are carrying.
Hope because He is in charge, if we will surrender to him – let Him have all we are, allow him to love us from the inside out. Love us better. Love us into life.
It is this that is at the heart of the incarnation.
Jesus – Fully Human AND Fully GOD – was, IS prepared to hold us close when we we’re covered in filth, pain, inadequacy. Then by loving us, He bring us into Freedom.
He loves us as we are. Even the parts that we hide, ashamed, fearing we are un-loveable. He knows them all.
But he is not content to leave us broken.
If we invite him, He will get into our situation with us, hold our hand and lead us through it. He will grieve with us as we grieve, and rejoice with us when we rejoice, and even when the outcome is not as we expected – there will be peace. There will be hope.
As we walk with him, we will discover that we begin to become more like him. Others will see it too, and will be drawn to Jesus through us.
‘Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.’ Isaiah 60:3
Walking in the light, we will find our footing sure and our way forward, even if there is only enough light for the next step – we can still choose to walk.
So whatever you are facing – Cancer. Pain. Broken or breaking marriage. Loneliness. Heartbreak. Nervous breakdown. Identity crisis. Job loss. Money troubles. Fear of the future. Messy sexuality. Death. Pregnancy and childbirth. Raising a Family. Loss of a loved one. New opportunities. Change of life state. New home. New job. Family tensions. Worries for your children. Education. Exams. And everything else in between – know that you are not alone.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Jesus came especially for you.
To offer you freedom, peace and joy.
To tell you that he will take care of you.
My prayer for this whole Advent season is, that in the midst of all the preparations for Christmas, you and I will experience the awe and wonder of discovering Him and His incomprehensible love. That we will dare to take him at his word and trust Him. That we will allow his light to shine in our darkness, and shine through our lives. Selah.