The spiritual invitation of Advent and Christmas strikes me as precisely the opposite of “AI” or “hallucinate,” two words of the year for 2023. This season is all about paying attention, waiting, watching, listening. It is about bringing our fully embodied, fully incarnate sensory selves to be as present and intimate and awake as possible with the ever-astounding mystery and glory of being itself.
In the gospel narrative, Joseph is the backup quarterback. Mary is the star. And that is as it should be. Yet Joseph was faithful, devoted, and played his part well before he faded from the scene not long after the birth of Jesus.
From the word Advent also springs the word adventure. Imagine considering that there are adventures of faith for you. What would an adventure of faith look like? How would life be different if you actively chose to pursue an encounter with the Divine? To help prepare for those adventures of faith, consider four ways to prepare spiritually for Christmas.
May we remember something that is as true of God during Advent as it is at Christmas, just as it is true on Good Friday and in the Easter narratives of Thomas and the resurrection. That truth is this: we serve a tender God.
This year, I am adding an extra candle to my Advent wreath: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, and Grief. Advent is most commonly known as a season of waiting, but it is also a season of grief.
I’ve lamented my way through my time at Yale Divinity School, crying out in both pain and gratitude because I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and because my grandparents were not there to see me receive my Master of Divinity. I am becoming more fluent in the language of lament, learning its hollow vowels, complex conjugations, and myriad metaphors. And I thank God that God’s still patiently listening for my voice, even when I don’t really want to talk.