• Seasons of the Spirit: Birthing God

    An Advent Reflection

    Advent is with us! This season beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas is to be a time of “pregnant” waiting, anticipating the unknown coming into our life in yet another new way of being. It is said that religion is not so much a dogma, as it is an experience.  What experience are you being invited into as you prepare for the coming of this child?  Who will this child be for you?  And who are you called to be for this child?  Will you make of your life a vessel for carrying God’s great good news of joy, which is for all people? Love beckons. Grace invites. Hope illuminates.

    In Advent, we remember the promise of Isaiah: “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light.  Those who dwelt in a land of deep shadows, on them has Light shined.” Will we be willing to watch, wait, and witness to the Light that comes in this season:  at times to surprise, at times to comfort, at times to challenge us?

    We should not miss the irony of the story told in this season in which there is “no room in the inn” for God’s coming into the world.  How is it that God comes?  In a flash of light? A thunderclap?  No, on a silent night, in an insignificant stable to a couple wandering far from their home with only the warmth of animals and some “swaddling cloths” to keep the little one warm while lying in an animal food trough. 

    Our “welcoming all with joy” becomes incarnate for us, as God comes to us as one who is completely vulnerable, an infant in need of our love and care and attention. “The Word made flesh, unable to speak a word.” Our imaginations may be stretched to think of God as One who needs our hospitality and welcome, asking us to open the doors of our hearts.  God invites us to change our world from a place of rushing past the stable in our doing, achieving, and acquiring into a place of taking time to simply hold the child. This simple act of being present to God in this way shows us a path to be more loving and connected to others who share with us this human condition.

    How might God break through our “perfectly controlled” Christmas this year to surprise us with unanticipated joy? Dare we welcome this One who turns our world upside down, offering us a new way of being, a new understanding of time and a deeper reflection upon our values and the decisions we make?

    May we be released from our harried schedules and over-filled activities to ponder this mystery of the “Word made flesh.”  May we ponder, pray, listen, and become aware of the ways God is asking us to be open to a Love that will never let us go, a Love into which the “little ones” in our lives can woo us. As we wait for the dawning of the Light, may we in time be released into the grace and acceptance this Love comes to give us. Joy is beckoning. Will you receive it? Will you offer it?

    —Rev. Dr. Ken Orth, Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction Affiliate, First Congregational Church of Winchester (UCC), and Healing Worship Minister, Old South Church in Boston (UCC)

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