I’ve had a tenuous relationship with Christmas the last few years. Christmas has seriously stressed me out. It’s not just all of the extra and expectations that go into the month of December; although, these also play a role in holiday stress. But navigating Christmas with faith-shifting questions is hard. Christmas has a way of throwing these questions back in your face and reminding you that you don’t quite belong to the places that once felt like home.
This year, I feel like I am making peace with Christmas. I think it’s because I’ve found my question for this season.
I had a faith that needed rattling and deconstructing—the big questions accomplished this purpose. What is growing in its place is good and beautiful and full of life. My faith is being rebuilt and my soul is moving forward one good question at a time.
The best questions are those that can’t be answered right away. The questions that transform us need time and space and breathing room because there are no one-size-fits-all answers.
This Christmas season, I found one of these questions. I’m borrowing it from medieval mystic, Meister Eckhart:
“What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the son of God 1400 years ago, and I do not also give birth to the son of God in my time and in my culture?”
This question is giving shape to my Advent this year. I want to make room for God to be born in me and through me. What does this look like? What does this mean?
We tell a story of God putting on human flesh in Jesus. The story of God-with-us didn’t happen just once upon a time. But it happened, is happening, and will continue happening. God is waiting also to be born in each of us—inviting us to become part of that incarnation—God’s hands, feet, and smile in our families, neighborhoods, and world.
Sometimes, I get tripped up because I start thinking that if God is growing something in me, if God is being born in me, then it’s going to be something big and spectacular and world-saving. I forget that the Christmas picture we are given of God-with-us starts out as a baby in a manger. Ordinary and earthy. Just Enough.
I needed the reminder I read a few days ago in Jan Richardson’s advent book Night Visions:
“ …we give birth, too, when we create with our hands, offer hospitality, work for justice, or teach a child. We share in giving birth whenever we freely offer ourselves for healing, for delight, for transformation, for peace. And we become, as German mystic Meister Eckhart wrote in the Middle Ages, “mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.”
Our world needs Christ to be born today. Born in Aleppo . Born in Washington , D.C. Born in our homes and in our churches.
Born in people like me. To live out God-with-us in an often dark and broken world.
During Advent, some people pray “Come Lord Jesus” and hope for Christ’s return to earth.
But what if that prayer is an invitation for Christ—for God with us—to be born in us now? Here? Whatever that looks like. Whatever that means.