O Christ of peace, be near us, we pray.
Be an ever present source of calm
in these uncertain times,
Revealing to us our idols of calm,
Leaving them now at the manger’s feet.
Empty our full cups of fear and anxiety.
Let them be poured out completely,
Leaving no space but the space you fill;
More room for your peace
More room for you, O Christ.
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.
“But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” The topic of “enemies” doesn’t feel very Christmasy this time of year. Many of us would rather talk about the three kinds of love that are found in the Greek or what it means to love your spouse better, or antidotes on parenting. But nobody wants to learn how to love and serve your Mormon neighbors or…
Our vision is far too short-sighted and our Jesus far too small. So we wallow. We pity ourselves and our circumstances. We shut our lives off from the rest of the world to cope leaving the hungry unfed and the conversations left unsaid. We are stopping-short instead of conflict instead of leaning in. We avoid aisles and streets and people to keep from those uncomfortable moments. We veer our eyes away so as not to feel guilt. But we are all guilty. Guilty of foreboding joy…
In our current political climate, we are in desperate need of peace. Even more so, we are in desperate need of those who embody peace, who are bearers of peace. It’s a real mess out there and the turbulence has everyone up in arms, ready for battle. At this point, peace feels like some fantasy wish dream that will come and go as quickly as our Christmas decorations and we will be back at it in January.
Hope often comes to us not as we expect. It doesn’t come crashing through our despair as many of us wish it would, armored for battle, fighting by our side. It comes to us small and fragile and quiet. So we tend to doubt it. I myself have a complicated relationship with hope. After battling with infertility for over seven years, I have come to resent hope in its smallness and quiet, as if it’s taunting me to believe in something I haven’t experienced any victory in.
Jesus takes on human form to make visible hope, peace, joy, and love. With a human face, name and a story, God in the flesh makes truth palpable enough to eat and drink. This truth brings both healing and division because not everyone can swallow the message he brings. This truth also brings questioning when we experience a severe lack of hope, peace, joy, and love or when we experience these things outside our Christian tradition.
“You worship what you ultimately find most beautiful.” (Dr. Paul Metzger)
This Advent season I have found myself more distracted than ever. It could be a combination of starting a new job, then starting my Masters, and planning a trip to Europe for In-vitro. All of it seemed to come crashing onto my shores at one this fall and I found myself looking for high ground. Especially in media and TV once again: My “go-to” escape.
Can we become addicted to our distractions?