The season of Advent is upon us, and I’m so happy about it! One of my friends makes her own Advent wreath each year, so I followed suit and put this little one together on our dining room table. I love what it reminds me of….
Advent means “coming” and I think this year, more than ever, we understand what it feels like to wait for the coming of something new. We anticipate the coming of a new COVID-19 vaccine, desperately needed relief for hospital workers, the return to in-person learning and church. We wait for comfort for those suffering, jobs for the unemployed and decreased COVID cases across our country. We long for the coming of peace, equality and racial reconciliation.
Advent signifies the time we pause and collectively open our eyes and our hearts to receive the coming of Christ into the world. We remember that Christ came, Christ is with us and Christ will come again. As Sarah Bessey says,
“Advent gathers together what was and what is and what will be – this is both a promise and a challenge, a comfort and a call, a repentance and a reorientation.”
I love her description of “reorientation” because that’s what this season has felt like for me. It’s been one, big reorientation towards what matters the most and what I love the most. I’ve had to release a lot in the process and it has not been comfortable, but it’s come with hidden gifts.
My Spiritual Director captured this same idea when she said, “I wonder if we are looking for God in all the places we are used to finding Him…like our churches, gatherings and traditions. But what if God is preparing us to find Him in new ways? We must keep our eyes open so we don’t miss Jesus.”
I know for me, seeing God in new ways has meant looking at what is right in front of me. As my world has gotten much smaller in lock-down, the gift has been seeing God close-up.
I think of my husband, in whose eyes I see God, time and time again. The way I am loved by LJ is one of the kindest, purest and fullest ways I’ve ever known. However I’ve grown used to the normalcy and dailiness of his love – and so often, I overlook it.
But it’s true that God shows up in the way LJ loves me, and I don’t want to miss it. Like when we sit in front of the fireplace, drinking coffee in comforting silence. Or when he reminds me to laugh and seek joy in the moments where I begin to get a bit too serious. Yep, he dressed up as me teaching yoga, isn’t he cute!
And he often tells me, “This is for you. Keep going. You know I’m behind you, right?” And most often I find myself sitting at the top of the basement stairs, looking down at him while he works, and venting about my day. Each time, he stops what he’s doing, looks up with a knowing smile and listens patiently.
The ordinary becomes extraordinary when I remember to pay attention. I can see God’s relentless love breaking through the normal, ordinary moments of my day and I think this must have been how Mary felt, too.
Hundreds of years ago, Mary, a young girl, sat alone in her ordinary day and heaven’s glory broke in as God delivered His promise of Jesus’ coming.
Now, I haven’t had any angels showing up lately…though my husband and loved ones come pretty darn close sometimes…. but I’ve still seen glory breaking through the surface of the familiar.
And this was true for God’s people too. They were were looking for the King of glory to enter into their world, though I think they were searching for Him by the world’s definition. The Old Testament prophesied,
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.Psalm 24:7-10
As God’s people were waiting and watching for the King of Glory to enter the world, He came where they least expected Him. God delivered Christ through the relentlessly, ordinary life of a young girl, as she sat alone in the dark.
This story brings me extra hope this year as so many of us are sitting alone in the dark. And I’m choosing to believe that God is preparing us to be found by Him and receive the gift of Jesus in new ways.
What if we respond in the same way that Mary did?
“So Mary trusted God more than her eyes could see.(The Gospel of Luke, Jesus Storybook Bible)
And she believed.
“I am God’s servant,” she said. “Whatever God says I will do.”
Mary had the courage to trust God more than what her eyes could see at first glance, and receive the promise of Christ with her yes.
Today, what happens when we take time to pause, pay attention to what’s close and trust God to reveal the coming of His glory into the relentless, ordinary moments of our days.
May we say yes to the moment and not miss where Christ is entering our life, perhaps where we least expect it.
Blessings of open eyes,