We do not merely want to see beauty…. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. -C.S. Lewis
Advent brings borders to the land of us and reveals the tension between the already and not yet. For its gift of light allows us to recognize that which we have not readily received and for what it is we wait. Through it, if we will allow Advent to run through us, we are rallied for the ongoing, daily preparation of making room. Our hearts, minds and souls can become crowded. Advent awakens our awareness of all else we have let loiter where He is meant to linger. Advent is a gift of time. Its opening asks us to be still and know.
The sacramental season of Advent invites us to discover anew what it means to need the Presence of God. If abled, it will uncover the truth of Who it is we truly wait upon. It comes pregnant with the purpose of deliberately detaining us in the mystery of our salvation and the history that holds it. It invites us to move intentionally. To be intentionally moved.
The surfacing of this season celebrates the coming of Christ. He came with a lusty cry so we would be unafraid to cry out. This is the place incarnation meets humanity and there is no shame in the touching of the two.
Advent means ‘arrival or the coming.’
Jesus was sent into an impoverished world, to parents of no renown into a town known for nothing. Nothing good anyway. He made His way from Heaven’s hold and Pappa’s magnanimous heart into a weary world, ripe with political unrest and ignored injustice. He came, so that very world could rejoice. His arrival upended everything, for problems don’t always know how to make room for peace. And mad men with disposable crowns don’t always want to surrender their greed, so God might be given glory.
I wonder what it felt like for those of Nazareth when they heard that the Savior would be from among them? What were the people of that day really looking for?
What are we looking for, those who live in a world where Christ lived already? What is it like for each of us to know the Savior dwells among us? Does such a knowing will us to enter the greater waiting that Advent remembers? He has come. He is coming. He comes into every day and every circumstance. He responds to whispered prayers, longing cries and hallowed praise. He doesn’t consider us unimportant people from insignificant places. He doesn’t come because of where we are from, but because of to whom we belong.
In those days, some were watching, waiting. Others turned blind eyes and rushed ahead. Humanity dreamed of all kinds of saviors and so clamored for political figures, financial wizards and religious giants. Not everyone knew that the biggest thing can be poured into the smallest space. It must have given them quite a fright when He came to take up residence. His arrival revealed that there was no room at the inn. But He would make room for many as He vacated the premises of empty worship, vain pursuits and tarnished idols.
Those who waited, recognized Him when He came with coo instead of chaos. With light instead of sword. They were unafraid that He laid aside His glory and unashamed of the goodness He kept, that would allow Him to reveal His greatness on a different day.
Bethlehem was a little stage for a baby God and a manger is a tiny table for broken bread. That must be because He multiples. This God doesn’t want to just fill us; He longs to sustain us. He is here to dwell. He came to die. He comes to resurrect.
We are told, ‘To you is born.’ Advent reminds us of this truth. He was born to each and every one of us. And the every and each of us chooses at this borderland of Advent if we will receive Him. Here, at the coordinates of light, past and present, we can reconcile to all the ways we haven’t let Him come in the past and surrender to all He will and must do, to occupy us fully, now.
Mary yielded and was overshadowed. She let Pappa offer shade to her flesh that could easily fail. Shadow made way for light and she was filled. Her spirit rejoiced and her soul magnified the Lord, at the very news of Him. She demonstrated the greatness of gratitude long before she knew how the story of Christ within her would unfold.
Joseph rested, which led him to easily believe the dream given to him in the night. Gospel’s light gave and he gleaned the good news of Emmanuel. He wanted God, with them, more than he wanted anything else. A dream revealed the very thoughts of His heart. What he truly sought, he wondrously found.
Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with Him everything else. -C.S. Lewis
Advent is a circle that becomes a simple crown, with which to adorn Him. Come let us, let it be done unto us, just as He has said, is saying.
The next four weeks are hemmed with invitation and intrigue. Let’s look for Him together and celebrate every time we crown His coming. You may choose to enter in to all or some–that’s amazing. Just enter in with all you got!!
Sunday, November 29th beckons Advent of 2020 to us. Isn’t that something? We may feel we have lived all 2020 has thrown our way, but what if it is just coming, and these weeks hold what it has really held for us all along. Maybe we just need to purposely pause that we might praise Him for every day of it.
Each week of advent, on the Sunday of each week, we light a candle. Its radiance allows us to see the week ahead, heavy with covenant to explore.
Week 1: Ache To ache is to remember not only what has been, but that which has always been intended. An allowed ache yields us to yearn for Him, to long deeply until our greatest desire is for Him–not just for Him to come, but to come however He must to invade us fully.
Week 2: Anticipation In anticipation, we look forward to the mystery of His coming. Suspended with wide eyes, here, we are prepared. Despair, fear, doubt and shame are all removed as the anticipation of His arrival takes hold.
Week 3: Arrival Awaiting something wondrous is not a passive act. It causes us to reach so that at His sudden showing, we can touch Him. This is a place of experiencing the extravagance of His entrance and answering with our own arrival at the abundance of His existence.
Week 4: Adore Adoration keeps us from losing our sense of wonder. Here our hearts never cease being amazed. We recognize that the Eternal God has entered time and space in all its forms, for us. Here, we realize the capacity of our createdness and spill over, pour out, what it is like, to have God with us. Always. Our adore, our worship, reveals to a weary world what it feel like to encounter and experience the Living God. Oh, may there be great rejoicing!
A portion of advent is the awe of preparing Him room. To make this tangible, we will travel through the rooms of our home, and make a map of all the places we need Him. As we go, we will ask how we can invite Jesus into our space and convert it to OUR space, the expanse we share with Him.
Sunday: Kitchen The place to prepare and remember the care with which He serves. This space reveals our heart to delight in Him and each other. We prepare from what we pursue. In the kitchen, we discover what our hearts are hungry for.
Monday: Dining Room/Kitchen Nook The site of set table and shared stories. A space that reminds us to linger and reveals if we sit at His feet or worry in work. Here we can reckon with who we will allow to sit with us and if we will freely give from all we have been given.
Tuesday: Living Room Upon couch and cushion we remember test and testimony and tell of who He is to us. Here we reckon with how we live, so He can resonate in all we do.
Wednesday: Office/Study Every home may not have an office, but we do set apart space to study and learn. Here we are reminded of what we seek, for what we truly search.
Thursday: Game Room/Entertainment Area We were created to enjoy all He provides. This space, whether an actual room or a place of our heart reminds us we were made for joy. We are His delight and He longs to be ours. We can escape with Him or have an escapade of our own making. Here, we can choose the better thing.
Friday: Sacred Space This may be your bedroom or a place you have designed and designated to spend time with Him. This is the place we most easily allow Him to come into, bringing intimacy, revelation, comfort, correction and the beautiful truth of who we are to Him. In this space, we discover anything we allow to keep us apart.
Saturday: Holiday Place The place we celebrate. This might be where the majority of your decor resides or outside where you feel most free. Here we might reckon with the idea that we don’t have enough or aren’t enough. Or that something more must happen before we can celebrate what already has. In this spot we might recognize a dread of celebration because we fear what may follow (the other shoe dropping).
Advent is a season of expectantly preparing to celebrate that He is here and He will come again! We may need to leave some residences of the past so we might dwell in the hope of all that is to come. In the presence of this greater waiting we need awakened senses. In Terraforming Communion is a chapter called “Coming To our Senses”. It might be worth a review. But for ADVENTuring, I’ll include the seven senses described there, so we can walk through one each day, until we have, well, come to our senses.
Sunday: Sight/Vision/Imagination What we have called sight is truly vision. This sense encompasses the imagination. There are 130 references to this sense in the gospels alone. The word most often used is “behold” which means “to have the ability to recognize.” The disciples asked Jesus to remind them how to recognize Him in every form–Father, Son, Holy Spirit. This sense brings unseen things into reality. With this sensitivity, we can recognize Him in the room, as well as what He is doing within it. It enables us to join Him.
Monday: Sound/Listen/Language This sense is so much more than what we hear. In Hebrew this sense represents “hospitality”. This is the way we receive Him and each other. This sense is our response. It is relationship. We speak from who we hear. It reveals what we have become part of or one with. Through this sense, we become hospitality to Him and others. This sense reveals what we have to give and what we will offer. It is the sense of offering.
Tuesday: Smell/Breath/Breathing Our sense of breath. This is our inhale and exhale. Receiving Him and giving Him back. Through this sense, we discern between what brings life and death. We recognize decay and breathe life for restoration. This sense awakens us to all that brings life. There is a scent of worship needed for restoration. This sense finds that fragrance and releases it to remove shame or ready resurrection.
Wednesday: Taste/Experience This is the sense of being satisfied or content. I love that contentment is a sense!! This is the sense that causes us to taste and see that He is good and connect to what truly satisfies and nourishes. This sense is about our source. We need not nourish ourselves if we allow Him to sustain and satisfy us. This sense reminds us from where we draw life.
Thursday: Touch/Communication/Reception What was placed in Jesus’ hands was given to us. This sense is about physical touch and our need for it, but even more it is about our ability to be moved. This sense details our closeness, intimacy and connection to Him. The more intimate we are, the more we pause so He can pierce, and we are moved. He moves us, we move another. This is how we communicate. By being moved and moving each other. Here, we feel as He feels. We carry another’s affliction with them, until they can allow Him to touch it. This is burning bush and holy ground. Here we see what we will not touch and let Him move us to more.
Friday: Balance/Order/Remembrance The Hebrew word for balance means “likeness”. To be in balance is to reveal His image. We don’t feel the fullness of the other senses without this one. This sense is about alignment. His will, His way. To be balanced is “to remember”. It allows us to know the whole. In this sense we find daily bread, the wait and mystery to meet. This is also the sense of Shabbat. We set apart what needs remembrance so we never forget.
Saturday: Motion/Seeking This is the sensing of our inmost part. It is the sense of our compassion and worship. The gospel of John speaks of this sense eleven times in chapter four alone. This sense allows us to give from what we have received. It is our response to the presence, power and purpose of Jesus. This is where we marvel at what He has done with rejoicing.
Here we set our story apart and celebrate that it is ours. This is the sense of God with us. He comes and we are moved. Here we enter the sacred and hold holy. This sense reveals and releases the physical experience of being with God.
My hope is that in these weeks together, we may each answer the question,
“How is Jesus the answer to my every longing?”
**Note: Advent Sundays (for 2020) are November 29, December 6, December 13, December 20
December 1st – 25th Jesse Tree blogs will be posted daily
December 10th – 18th posts will include Chanukah blogs