by Christine Sine
Here in the U.S. it might be Thanksgiving but across the world, Sunday is the first day of Advent and the beginning of a new liturgical year. Many of us will set up our Advent wreaths, light our first Advent candle and begin to read our Advent devotionals. Some of us will buy Christmas trees and decorate them. Here on Godspace we will take a little different approach to the season.
As many of you know I am reading Heidi Haverkamp’s Advent in Narnia this year and have already been deeply impacted by her introductory words Lewis, by placing Christianity into another world, makes it unfamiliar again. He gives us the chance to feel a newfound wonder at the depth of God’s love, the power of Christ’s grace and the totality of his sacrifice and the wonder of a world infused with the Holy Spirit.
I love the idea of making Advent unfamiliar again and invite you to journey with us on Godspace into an unfamiliar story of Jesus birth. So often we look at Advent from the God side of the story – the angel Gabriel’s visit, virgin. birth, the choirs of angels singing at Christ’s birth. Or we think of the cultural images we see on Christmas cards – a beautiful looking stable surrounded by a few animals and very well dressed shepherds, This Advent we want to introduce you to an unfamiliar Jesus – the human story of unwed mothers, supportive cousins, and welcoming surrogate fathers. What does Advent look like through their eyes? What does it look like through Jesus eyes – this vulnerable possibly even despised and rejected child from birth?
We know very little about Jesus childhood and the characteristics he displayed but we do know quite a bit about his birth and those who surrounded and nurtured him. What we know should stir a lot of emotions and raise a lot of questions for us.
Why did God choose such a vulnerable young woman to give birth to the Messiah? How did Joseph feel? What was it like to be a refugee in his day and age? Jesus may have been vulnerable and possibly even rejected and despised from birth, yet he was obviously also loved not just by Mary but also by her husband Joseph who kept both of them safe through an arduous journey as refugees into Egypt. Were they part of a refugee caravan like we have seen moving across Mexico this year? How were they treated in Egypt?
It was writing The Gift of Wonder and and developing resources like Advent gardens that encouraged me to step outside the box into an unfamiliar view of Advent and in fact of the whole gospel story. The story of Jesus conception and birth raises some challenging questions for us. How can we become like THIS child and what his birth tells us about the God that we follow? Fully human yet fully God. Powerful yet vulnerable. Loved yet rejected. What does it mean to you?
Please join us on the journey and if you are still looking for advent devotionals or other resources consider using some of the Godspace resources. Many of them are especially written to help us think outside the box, enter the story as though for the first time and gain a fresh perspective of who Jesus is and who the God that we worship is too.
Last but not least we wanted to let you know that on Monday all our digital downloads will be available at a discount price. Some of these are perfect adjuncts to Advent reflections and I hope you will consider using them.
God bless you in this unsettling season of waiting as we move towards our remembrance of Christ’s birth.