Christmas may be over and the new year begun, but I’m still lingering in advent. There’s a gift here too precious to rush past. A gift that I’ll need every day this year.
I saw it in the last week of term when I was (again) hitting up hard against all my limitations. Too little time, too little energy, and way too much to do. Unwrapped, the gift is this: Advent frees us to be human without fear.
God is with us, among us, in us.
Sometimes I forget how incredible this is. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t there when God told Moses, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Ex 33:19) I didn’t live back before God became man, when only a few people were ever allowed into the presence of God, and then in a limited way. I live now, after God became human, after He talked face to face with all kinds of people, breaking all the cultural and religious rules of how people were supposed to approach God. And so I forget how amazing this is.
At advent, our humanness stopped being a barrier to seeing God and became, instead, the place of encounter. The human body – Mary’s, Jesus’,and now ours when we give him our yes – became the home of the living God. You are sacred space. I am sacred space. This body that needs food and naps and washing, these emotions that fluctuate with fatigue and circumstance and the time of the month, this heart that struggles to trust: this is sacred space, the place where God meets me. The place where He makes his home.
Every part of our humanity is now a place to meet God.
So we don’t need to be afraid to be human. We are loved. Met. Entered.
So we don’t need to hide the struggle. The struggle itself – with fear or anger or illness – can become the holiest of places because God meets us there. Right in the middle of the messiest of places He comes closest, loving, healing, filling with Himself.
So as overwhelming as this hour, this week, this year might seem. . . as small and messy and unable as we might be. . . it will be okay. God is here and we are holy ground.
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Thanks, Carolyn, I needed this message today. It’s a beautiful thought–we are holy ground. In the midst of the struggles of my life, holy ground isn’t my first label. But it speaks hope to my heart.
Dear friend, though you may not feel it some days, you are so definitely holy ground! God’s life shines so brightly out of you! Praying much grace to you in the midst of the struggles. Love, C
Wow, what a thought, no fact, to take into this new year with all its fears and anxieties. thanks, Carolyn. Have loved all the advent entries and they were constantly with me all through the season….especially Dec 24 entry. Still think about it and marvel.
Thanks, Esme. The Dec 24th entry has been the one that has been ringing in my head for the past three weeks as well. Just amazing that the annunciation was not just for Mary but for us too!
Such an exciting & freeing truth, Carolyn, thanks! I am reading through Deuteronomy and I just wrote this question this very morning to ponder: “Why was there so much emphasis back then on the PLACE where the sacrifices were offered and where the Lord would be honored?” ie– SO different from the New Testament. Any thoughts on that? (Deut 15:20; 16:2, 5-7,11, 15,16 etc.) — Becky
I’m not sure, Becky. I wonder if partly it was to keep the Israelites from slipping into idolatry by celebrating on “the high places” where sacrifices to ‘gods’ of the nations around them were made. Maybe too it was because most (all?) of the celebrations which were to happen “in the presence of the LORD” and “at the place he shall choose” were connected with sacrifice, and that had to be done by the priests in the temple according to a God-defined ritual which demonstrated the holiness of God and the seriousness of sin and the value of the life which was being given for another.
But maybe also, given that so much of the OT foreshadows the NT, and given the repeated NT references to our bodies as the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” the emphasis on place in the OT was partly to prepare us for the startling news that God has changed his dwelling place from the building-temple to the body-temple. Maybe the point isn’t that place was important in the OT and isn’t important now, but rather that place is still crucially important, it’s just that the place that God has chosen to meet us has changed. We now carry the place that He meets us around with us everywhere rather than having to travel to the place he has chosen. But the place that he has chosen to be his temple is just as sacred as the building-temple ever was, because it’s God’s presence that makes it sacred.
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