This morning’s post comes from Kristin Tennant. Kristin is a freelance writer and author of the blog Halfway to Normal. She, her husband and their three daughters live, learn, play and worship in Urbana, Illinois. Kristin started blogging in response to the Advent series Jesus Is Near How Do We Draw Close? last week with this post Defining “near” & “close” She plans to continue blogging throughout the Advent season. I particularly love her post for this week – And I thought my sofa was Advent headquarters which I have reposted below.
Our Christmas tree is up—well, it’s up, but that’s about it. I guess you could call it a work in progress. On Saturday we went out, squinting through the flying flakes to decipher which snow-covered tree was the right size and shape for our living room. Back at home, furniture was moved, the tree was set in its stand and watered, and that was that. It stood there, melting its snow onto our floor, while we rushed around getting ourselves out the door for two holiday gatherings.
Yesterday I managed to put the lights on the tree, in between church, a Saint Lucia pageant rehearsal, and an evening meeting back at church. Of course, getting the lights up was no small task. First I had to go back to the store because I had bought the wrong lights—white lights on white cords. Ugh. Now we’re in the process of looking at the calendar to find a two-hour block of time when all five of us can be home together (and relaxed) to decorate the tree. Who knows, maybe we will even have an extra 15 minutes to sip some hot cocoa!
Yes, it’s Advent, and once again I’m struck—frustratingly so—by the irony of a season that’s all about peace, waiting and togetherness wrapped up in a pace that doesn’t allow for any of that.
Step 1: Locating Jesus
Last Monday I wrote my first of four Advent posts, based on the theme set out by Christine Sine for her annual Advent series: “Jesus is Near: How Do We Draw Close?” “It seems clear that the kind of closeness we’re talking about here, in relationship to Jesus and Advent, requires action and participation,” I wrote. Today, as I think about the “action and participation” of my weekend, it’s clear that I need to be a bit more specific. What type of action actually helps me draw close to Jesus?
First, I need to find out where Jesus is. I believe he is “near,” but where, exactly? (And for those of you thinking “He’s everywhere!”, yes, yes, I know, but that doesn’t really help me calm running around and focus.)
It seems to me that Jesus is in the simple, humble, modest places, where babies fuss and eventually sleep, where animals sigh, where floors and windows are never perfectly clean, and where the only “decoration” might be a cluster of four candles and some evergreen branches.
It also seems to me that Jesus is wherever there are people who are most needy and vulnerable, who are feeling most alone and hopeless. He is near people who are waiting to be taken seriously—to be asked “What would make a difference?” and then to actually have their responses be heard.
Step 2: Getting myself from here to there
I see those humble places, those vulnerable people, around me. If that’s where Jesus is, how do I draw close? Well, for starters, I can go sit with a friend who has a new baby, lending support and maybe a bit of wisdom about strategies to calm the fussiness. And I can collect money from friends to purchase two baby swings for another mom I know with newborn twins. She has three other children, and her husband currently has to live in a town an hour away as he looks for work. She needs a lot of support and hope.
I’m not saying that my own family isn’t important, or that having a Christmas tree up in my living room doesn’t serve as a daily reminder that this season is different.
But I’m also not going to fool myself into thinking that Advent is going to be all about cozy evenings by the tree with the people I love, knitting and sipping cocoa. There’s probably going to be some busyness involved, if I’m going to get myself from here to there—from my sofa and not-yet-decorated tree to the people Jesus is tending to. But I have a feeling that kind of activity will seed the very peace I’m looking for as Christmas draws near, and I finally learn how to draw close.
(Next Monday I’m planning to take a closer look at all the stuff that gets in the way of my movement toward Jesus. Trust me, there’s a lot!)