A Different Kind of Advent-Keeping

The first week of December is nearly past, and I’ve changed my mind three times about which Advent devotion to use for Christmas. Why am I dragging my feet?  I can’t connect the babe in the itchy hay to the man who faced death with composure. God entered human life as the rest of us did, as a baby, but the grown man gives me more confidence than the infant. I want to find Immanuel, God with me, here and now.

I yearn to experience Jesus as John did in I John 1:1.

What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—

I try to imagine Jesus in the flesh, not as a babe, but as a man sitting across from me where I could ask Him a jillion questions. I want to hear His emotion and emphasis, His irony, teasing, and the timbre of His voice. I long to hear Him laugh, to hear Him sing. I want to feel His shoulder’s warmth as I bury my face into it and to smell His humanity in a bear hug with His arms tight around me like a thunder-shirt.

The author of I John anticipates my longing. After he pens the verses that awake my longing, he next writes, 

That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” I John 1:3

This verse says I can experience John’s depth of fellowship with Jesus through John’s message (Scripture) and through fellowship. Though I don’t physically hear Jesus’ voice, He enlivens the Bible so that it speaks to me. He may not light a firecracker every time I read it, but it happens again as I read I John 1:6-7.

If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.

I expect him to say we have fellowship with Him, but he says we have fellowship with one another. This affirms His point in verse 3: fellowship with God is tied to fellowship with other believers. I must look for Him in His people. God reaffirms this thought in a book I’ve been reading, Practicing the Presence of People, by Mike Mason.

By looking at people with the eyes of faith—past all the masks, the games, the lies—we pierce through to the truth of the person whom God created.

Mother Teresa looked past the present, surface appearance of people to see into their past and future. She saw their beautiful, innocent past in the Garden of Eden, and she saw their glorious potential as the children of God in heaven. Seeing the light of God’s image deep down in human beings.… 

Once again God’s Spirit speaks  to me, this time through my “fun” book, The Dean’s Watch, by Elizabeth Goudge.

(Miss Montague) was now a dumpy old lady with a soft face of indeterminate feature, and faded blue eyes that were both shrewd and tender. Those upon whom her eyes rested immediately thought the world of themselves, for it was obvious that she saw with one glance all the good in them to which their own families seemed so strangely blind.

Immanuel has shown me how I should keep Advent this year, something simple without dates and readings in which I will fall behind. I will look for Immanuel, not in a ceramic cradle or in a new take on the Christmas Story but living in His people. I’m hoping that instead of changing up Christmas this year to bring back wonder, Jesus will change me up and make me more like Miss Montague, more like Jesus.


11 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Advent-Keeping”

  1. How deeply your words touched me, this time more than any other . I was given the grace of being with my father and my sister right before they died. Both times I experienced an overflow of God’s compassion and immeasurable love – in those rooms and in me. Gone was judgement and regret for the things that could have been. In that amazing love I could look at my father and my sister, and yes, at myself too, in the beauty and innocence of Eden, before our masks pushed it aside. It’s true what John says . It is only in His light that we can see the light in others and in ourselves

    1. Maria, your description of those moments of clarity purified through God’s love sends joy to me! I love this, “It is only in His light that we can see the light in others and in ourselves.” May I quote you?

      1. Suzy, sure, you may quote anything I say, but any thoughts I had are but a reflection on what you wrote in your blog, Goudge’s and Mason’s quotes included. I keep hearing Paul in Ephesians 2, how we can only be alive in Christ.

  2. After reading this, I feel as if I am in His Garden of Eden everyday because of the people of faith that I surround myself with. I do not feel judged by Him but led by Him through His Word and what love he imparts to me. You did a remarkable job of explaining what I feel and how much I look forward to being with Jesus one day soon. Life is a fleeting moment in God’s time and He does not want it wasted but used to finish a part of the work He left behind for us to do and to enjoy each second you give to the least of His children. We should all feel this way and live in His image by all we do. I am forever thankful for His presence in my life and that He came to restore and save me.

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