Art Source: “John the Baptist” by Jesus Mafa

The Waiting Rooms of Christmas: The Wilderness II

Luke 3:7-18

And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

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Lina Thompson
Seattle, WA | USA

Advent gives us an excuse to consider again the nature of a God who comes to be with and in a people. If the Incarnation is anything, it is the God-in-flesh ONE who turns things upside down and inside out, simultaneously scandalizing and comforting us. This is the God we are waiting for and the God we will welcome—anew.

In light of this disruptive incarnation, “preparing Him room” can be inconvenient. The Incarnate One has a unique presence, taking up residence in and through our very lives—always With Us, calling us deeper to Himself, to our neighbor and to the world He created.

Waiting and preparing to receive Christ can feel counterintuitive and frustrating—especially in the midst of personal disappointment, shame and longing. It can seem lonely and hopeless. Wilderness is a good word to describe this space.

I think, like the crowd in this week’s lectionary passage, we too may be asking, “So now what should we do?” When God doesn’t show up the way we always thought, when the Incarnation, as CS Lewis puts it, “shatters” our best ideas of God…what do we do?

Here might be some Good News: Emmanuel.

We are not alone. The Incarnation, even when it is drastically different than we had imagined, is and always has been with US—AND most especially with Us in the shattering. This is the Christ we welcome in this time.

I want to share with you a poem written by a colleague of mine, Reverend Kelle Brown of Plymouth Congregational Church in downtown Seattle. She shares a beautiful truth: God is intimately present with those, with us, who may find ourselves wandering a bit in Advent Wilderness. She names them Blessed. Talk about a shattering…

Blessed are those who enter Advent with too much familiarity,
Who know their deep cave and all its features intimately;
Who aren’t excited that one day a ray of light will rip a tear across the opaque fabric of time… because for some, the forced night has been decades too long.

That kind of hope takes too much energy. Too much time. Too much space.

Blessed are those who walk in darkness most of the time and never experience marvelous light,
Only dim flickers and alarming, slow-popping sparks that breed fear, but start no fires.
Blessed are the ones who aren’t jealous of those who do walk the path and find hope scattered around the way, who will be bathed in light.
Blessed are those who pretend that being rescued is the aspiration, when they really want to be seen.
They hope there will be a resolution to their voluminous darkness.

Blessed are the battered, the weary, the lonely.
Blessed are the ones who endure promises even the one who made them didn’t believe.
Blessed are ones who wait in vain,
The ones who travel toward safety and find pure hell;
The ones who are told their darkness is evil when their eyes are watching God.
Blessed are those who feel powerless, while using their bit of strength to love the gaslighters, narcissists and liars around them.
Blessed are those who make home for so many, knowing there will not be one for them unless they fashion it themselves.
Blessed are the ones who wish just one person would cherish them,
Who look in the universe for their star timidly, believing every one of them belongs to others.

Advent is yours. It’s the liminal space all life needs. It’s not the usual breath; it’s the long sigh. Not what you see, but the blink that restores the eye.

This moment, do with it what you need to get through the night. Let it do to you what it shall to birth you, and make you whole.

May you find hope.
May you find peace.
May you find joy.
May you find love.
Always.