Sunday, December 7, 2008

A New Year

We’re a week into the new year in the Christian calendar world. It’s Advent, the season of expectation, of waiting, of chaos – of starting over again at the very beginning of things. I love Advent, absolutely love it. And though I love all church seasons, this is my favorite. I do not always like following the lectionary texts, but during Advent the lectionary gets it right, seems to me. The scriptures are hard and strange: stars falling from the sky in an apocalyptic moment, voices shouting in the wilderness for us all to repent to be ready for the One who is coming, an angel appearing to a young and unwed girl telling her she will become pregnant with the son of God.

And they’re full of wonder, sometimes in the same moment the story is odd and confusing. A seemingly crazy prophet named John is the one chosen to prepare the way for Jesus, way out beyond the city limits, wading in the water and asking all to come in and wash themselves clean of all that gets in the way of true seeing, all that prohibits us from recognizing Jesus when we see him. A young and unwed girl is the one chosen to bear God into the world, in flesh and blood. And the stars fall, the world turns upside-down, chaos is everywhere. These stories, these texts are hard, and strange - and wonder-filled.

Like life. I’ve often wondered what it was like to experience Advent as a pregnant woman or as a parent of an infant. Enter Advent 2008, and my now almost 10-week-old daughter. The world turning upside-down is almost an understatement, really. Our life, my life is unrecognizable from anything I could have ever imagined. Truly hard, truly strange. And truly wonder-filled. The gift of a child does, indeed, turn life chaotic. The gift of a child re-orders the universe as you’ve known it. And the gift of a child literally embodies the Holy in countless ways everyday.

This new year, for me and for my family, has begun on another coast and in another community. The stars that fall here come from the same sky, but it looks different above the Southern landscape we find ourselves in. Last year, at this same time, we were anticipating what life might be like if we were fortunate enough to become pregnant. It’s nothing like what I could have imagined. It’s far more difficult than I could have dreamed. And it’s made my world far deeper and wider and joy-full than I could have ever hoped for.

May my heart, my mind, my soul be ever open to the One who comes this Advent. The One who comes to me, to you – and to all the world. May we all wait and watch and listen with our feet on the ground, our bodies in service, and our hearts praying without ceasing.