An Emptying Season

empty cup of coffee on wood backgroundLet the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. (Philippians 2: 5-8)

Emptying?  No, that’s not Advent.  That’s Lent!  Advent is about preparing ourselves for the big Coming Day.  Advent is about buying presents and putting ornaments on the tree and buying all the stuff that we need at the grocery store to make all those marvelous goodies.  We’re TRYING to prepare, but there’s just so much to do.  So, this is the season about making our list and checking it twice to make sure we don’t miss anyone or anything.  So what in the world does that have to do with emptying?

Well, nothing—it has nothing to do with any of those things.  That’s the point.  Where did we get the idea that preparing for Christ’s coming was about taking on more stuff?  You know with all this buying and all this trimming and all this baking and all this running around, how is Jesus going to fit in?  Our Advent preparations are not about filling our lives to the brim; they are about making room for the Christ in our lives.  And I’m thinking that probably means we need to do a little end-of-year cleaning.

When Jesus was born, there was no room in the world.  The world was just not quite ready.  The world was preoccupied with its own problems and its own situation.  The world was too busy trying to fill itself with good things and guard against someone taking them away.  The world was distracted with its politics and its games and its inability to fix it all and it forgot to make room.  So God came into the only emptiness that there was—a young girl’s womb, an open manger, and a displaced couple traveling far from home.  It seems that God does not often forcefully wedge the Divine self into places that are full and lit, places that are completed and closed.  Otherwise God would have been born in a warm bed with fresh sheets and perhaps a dark chocolate on the pillow.  But God instead seems to show up in those hollowed out darkened spaces, the ones that we have sometimes forgotten and sometimes just ignored.  Into the emptiness of the world, God comes.

So, this Advent, empty yourself a bit and make room for God to come into your life!

Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. (Simone Weil)

FOR TODAY:  Stop…no more…empty some of that out!

 

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

Shhhh!

Stillness-210“Be still, and know that I am God!* (Psalm 46: 10a)

As we begin our second week of Advent, there are those of us who are already swept up in the flurry and, indeed, the fury of the season. Our in-boxes have been inundated with notices of the “last” (or the second-to-the-last or the third-to-the-last or the one-hundred and twenty-six-to-the-last!) cyber sale and we have begun to panic. What if we don’t get it all done? What if the tree doesn’t get decorated in time for the party? What if the gift that is somehow delayed by UPS for no apparent reason doesn’t come? What if we’re not ready? Really? Shhhh…..Be still and know that I am God.

We have somehow become convinced that we have to make Christmas happen, that the season somehow depends on us. But do you remember what happened that first Christmas? The world had waited for generations upon generations. The world had somehow convinced themselves that when the Messiah came, God would enter into their carefully-constructed plans and fit right in. But instead, God came when the world wasn’t quite ready and really had no room other than an animal shelter. And the world was so busy still making plans for God’s coming and preparing that God came without much fanfare. And the world sort of neglected to notice and kept running. Shhhh…Be still and know that I am God.

Maybe that’s what God intended. Maybe God intended to come into the stillness rather than the flurry. Maybe God intended to come into the darkness rather than the brashness of the artificial light. Maybe God intended to come into those places that were not cluttered with plans and decorum but rather had enough space for God to begin again. Maybe God comes into the space that is open and available. Shhhh…Be still and know that I am God.

You know, there’s nothing wrong with preparing for the day, nothing wrong with decorations and gifts and pretty wrappings, nothing wrong with celebrating. But THIS Advent, leave some room. Leave some time. Leave some space for God to come again. Prepare your heart by opening it to the possibility that God will come into a place that you did not know. Shhh…Be still and know that I am God.   

The reason why we don’t take time is a feeling that we have to keep moving. If we would only be still and look about, we’d realize that we already have what we seek. We don’t have to rush after it. It was there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us. (Thomas Merton)

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Shelli