The season of Advent brings us a dual focus. We anticipate encountering Christ in his second coming and in the celebration of his birth at Christmas. We meet God through history, in grace and in hope at the end of times. I’m afraid that in the rush of the season, so much of this alludes me. Still, if I reflect on the miracle of the incarnation in a way that is grounded in reality and true to life experience, I come to understand it in a deeper way.
The unfortunate effect of the Advent-Christmas Season is that it becomes commercialized, veering so far from the Nativity narrative. If we strip it down to the reality of the event; no place to stay, an impending birth, a census, oppression in occupied territory and the damp musty air of an animal stable, we have a better understanding of the raw human condition in which the incarnation takes place.
Birth is messy and scary business. Animal dwellings are generally dirty and smelly. And journeying far from one’s home due to a political mandate is traumatic. This is the reality into which God breaks through. Unfortunately, we sanitize everything. We create beautiful images of a Madonna of ivory white skin, peaceful animals lying nearby and kings covered in glitter sitting stately with their gifts. But the real life situation was much closer to the lives of so many in our world. And yet, through all of this stress and messiness, Mary holds true to her conviction; “I am the handmaid of the Lord.” Joseph follows his heart and cares for his labouring wife, with faith in God. And glory comes in the most human of experiences, the birth of a child.
God literally becomes one of us. Emmanuel-God is with us and God is love. May many embrace this love as the world continues to struggle with the challenges of the past year. Love comes to us and is always here for us.
On this last Sunday of Advent, let us be thankful for the hope, peace, love and joy in this most precious miracle. Love reigns, God is with us.
So simple and so real
He comes to us
In harsh and chaotic reality
He comes to us
He is love.
–Jan Bentham is a Retired Religion Coordinator with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. She is a musician, serving in music ministry at St. Ignatius Parish in Ottawa. She currently works at St. Paul’s University with the Catholic Women’s Leadership Program.