Advent. Anticipating the coming of Jesus. The anticipation of anything involves waiting. Expecting. Hoping. Preparing.
It’s discerning how to welcome what is to come. Jesus
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The moment in God’s redemptive story when he enters the world. Enters into the brokenness of man to bring about wholeness and restoration.
How do we prepare our hearts and homes for such a birth as this?
I look to the days and years surrounding the nativity story for discernment. The people, places and actions authored by God. The first moments when this world welcomed the baby that would live and die as the Christ.
I consider the ways Mary and Joseph prepared themselves for this God child. Mary became a womb for holy life to grow. The kind of life that gives life to others. Joseph entered a covenant that opposed the expectations of his time and place. Together, with Mary, he lived rebellious to culture, and faithful to God. And this Mary and Joseph, they traveled. Pregnant with life, they journeyed to the place God set before them.
I consider in this divine story how the plans of society don’t always contradict, but often provide a way for God to bring about his plans. The Roman census welcomed baby Jesus by sending Mary and Joseph to the place God intended.
I consider the Inn keeper, who made room. Who received the laboring Mary, and provided a place for God to birth new life. And the stable he provided, it held the moment and received the Christ with humility.
Even the animals welcomed this baby with their witness. And the swaddling cloth, it embraced him.
I then consider how creation can’t help but participate in the welcoming of its Creator. The star, it shined bright and pointed others to Jesus, showing them The Way. And these Magi, who followed the light, welcomed the child with offerings.
This is how we welcome the birth of Jesus. These images — the swelling Mary, the faithful husband, the humble stable — they come into focus and I’m able to see how this story that we’ve heard our whole life leads the way for us.
Like Mary, we can become a womb. A safe place. A family and home that stretches and expands for God’s life to grow. And when this life is born in us, we give it to others.
Like Joseph, we can live counter to this place and time, obedient to the plans God lays before us. Even when it seems irresponsible. Even when it’s embarrassing, or shameful among society. When we are faithful to God, we welcome his miracles to conceive in us.
And like this man and wife, we can welcome Jesus with our feet. With the life God has given us, we can journey to the places he intends. Our availability invites his new and perfect ways into our life. We need only to be willing. He will make us able, even when it’s laborious.
Like the inn keeper, we can welcome by making room. In our hearts and home, we can make room for Jesus to be born. This is us opening ourselves to a savior. Us being willing to receive life. Us finding room in our already full lives for new life. God’s life.
And like the stable, we can be a humble environment for God’s life to birth in and through us. A simple place, genuine in character for God to make himself known. And when he does, we can embrace this life, wrapping ourselves around it like swaddling cloth. Protecting and holding the valuable grace given to us.
And when this Grace bears life in others, we can be a witness. Like the animals, we can be a created presence that welcomes new life. And in our witness let us testify of God’s glory and goodness, so others may hear and know.
And Oh to be like the star! To shine and point people to this life that will change theirs. May our life, and the light we reflect, be a guide for others to find the Christ.
And like these wise men who followed that star, we can make offerings to Jesus. Offerings of confession and thanksgiving and praise. Offerings that invite him into our presence so he can make us new.
This is how we welcome the birth of Jesus. This Christmas. And all the days that follow.