Vincent Van Gogh. Starry Night. Museum of Modern Art.
God has always been coming to us in the unfolding procession of time. He came to Adam and Eve as Spirit walking in the garden, Abraham as messenger angels, Moses as the Voice on the smoke-wrapped mountain, and Elijah as the fearsome Power behind miracles. Then, in the fullness of time, God came to us as a baby.
The expectation of Advent is anchored in the Incarnation—the gift of love in the coming of the Christ child. Time stopped, and the calendar began again when the One who created time descended into it. The Word who was with God and was God became flesh and dwelt among us. In Him was life, and that life is the light of all people. The light shines in our darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.1This unspeakable gift of love in Christ should be awaited in prayer, remembered with beautiful Scripture, liturgy, and song, and contemplated with watchful attentiveness for signs of His presence.
Christ, our Divine Lover, came as one of us to die for us and promised to be with us always, even until the end of time.2 Would He, who spoke unspeakable love by the gift of His blood, then stay far away from us? He comes in small moments of heightened perception—shimmering glimpses of ethereal beauty that briefly lift the veil of the known to illuminate the holy unknown. A stand of trees stretching limbs heavenward, glistening light diamonds singing on the water, a glorious sunset on the drive home, a fallen leaf, or a still small voice in the wind can suddenly illuminate our hearts with the assurance of Jesus’ presence. Should not these numinous moments of Presence spark our passion and give birth to prayer? Such unpredictable gifts of love and wonder are an experience of truth and remind us of a far higher order of knowing. They are marvelous mysteries that cannot and need not be understood but simply contemplated with joy.
When the heavens declared the arrival of God on an ordinary freezing night in winter, the simple shepherds in the field did not miss the moment, nor did the sophisticated kings in the east. They packed up their things and set out. They found a baby in a barn and believed. If we, too, will pay attention and apprehend the wondrous moments that come, we will discover Immanuel—God with us.
This Christmas, may we awaken to sparkling moments of Immanuel and the precious gifts of our belovedness.
Have you gathered up the infant Babe, this precious gift from God? And wrapped Him in swaddling cloth, the warmth of your own love? Have you held Him close and worshipped Him, then laid Him gently in the manger of your heart? BWS
“The persistent yearning that sweeps us all is a yearning to be known as we are and to be loved. When the wave of this yearning swells in our hearts, and its crest is infused by wondrous Light, all our barriers are pushed aside. Beauty awakens within us. A momentous reality of God trembles through our veins, opening a glimpse of the Eternal. God answers with Love our trembling awe.”The Hidden Life Awakened p.145