That’s how he came.
He didn’t come loud and proud. He didn’t come with armies and swords. He didn’t come claiming his right to rule even though he was already the Ruler of all. He came common and undesirable. He could have come conquering but instead he came swaddled, lying in a manger.
Small, quiet and fragile, he came. The all powerful God now utterly powerless. Subject to sickness and death, dependent for care. The Divine, the Limitless now limited by skin and bone.
This is our God, emptied. He came empty so that we could be emptied. Of despair, fear and hate. His tiny fingers more powerful than we could ever imagine, punctured our darkness, letting hopelessness drip out slowly. This is how he chose to love us.
He chose to empty himself. He chose to set aside his power to walk alongside the powerlessness. He chose us over Heaven. He chose empty over divine fullness.
He chose this so that we could too. He chose to forge a new way in the world, a new way of being together, a new way of love. This emptiness is no weak act however. It set prisoners and captives alike free from their cages. His emptiness healed the sick and the possessed. His emptiness was love for us. And love that is emptied of self can be free to be full of love of others.
This Advent may we choose emptiness over our self-fullness. Let us choose our neighbor over our man-made heavens. Our skin and bone, fragile fingers can also pierce the darkness and let despair seap out but we can’t do that if our hands are busy building tiny kingdoms. We can’t practice the small when we living large. We can’t practice love when we are stockpiling scarcity. We fear the empty and so we fill our fortresses. Overflowing we are, of fear and greed and comfort. And yet God chose emptiness.
This emptiness was God’s ultimate weapon against our hopelessness. He came in emptiness to empty the world of despair and restore hope. No parades or swords or loud worshipping, only a small crowd of shepherds, a spear to his side and the silence of a cold tomb. For you see, his emptiness didn’t end at the manger, it continued. It grew deeper and bolder and stronger, this emptying enabled him to say “not my will but yours be done.” Yet, this act of emptying, of pouring out became full, though not of himself but of you and me. Jesus, the Emptied One, filled himself to the point of death for us. The Emptied One died for our fullness, for our self-fullness, our right-fullness, our proud-fullness.
That is how he came.
Today, the emptying begins. Advent has come. Hope can only enter where there is room. Will you and I make room this season? Or will we choose our fullness over emptiness? Will we choose our man-made heavens over one another? I pray not and yet, emptying is no easy task. It takes us from leader to servant, from loud to listening, from life to death. There is no switch that can be flipped. It is slow, painful and long suffering. Not many will choose it. How many of us would choose to be born again, small and fragile and yet that is what we are! To deny our emptiness is to deny Christ’s fullness in us! If we spend our lives stuffing ourselves, we leave very little room for hope. Instead we are full of our idols of hope, our money, our reputation, our rights, our privilege, or comforts. We create our idols, blend them up and suck them down hoping to fill the emptiness. An emptiness divinely created within us for practice and for Presence. There is no switch but there is a cross that awaits our fragile hands to bear it. May we choose it’s weight on our shoulders and find fellowship in suffering and cease our stuffing.
Today, on the first day of Advent, may we choose empty so that hope can have room. May we let our tiny kingdoms crumble from neglect to minister to the neglected. May we practice hunger so that others may go without it. May we empty ourselves of agendas, to see others not as time slots but as priorities. May we practice emptiness through laying aside our power to walk alongside the powerless.
He came to us empty.
May we do the same.
Something to Ponder
How does Christ emptying himself to take on human form give us hope?
What does emptying look like for you this Advent season?
How can you practice it this week?