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.