Advent is Weird...and I Like it!
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together…” (Isaiah 40:3-5)
Advent is weird! Somebody had to say that. I mean, just think about it. Every year, at this time of year, we ask people who believe that God is already with them to anticipate God’s arrival. Weird right? But I like it! I can’t explain it, but I am definitely here for it!
I love this concept because in my experience, some things just don’t change until God shows up. You’ve probably had those ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ moments when you just throw up your hands like, “God, you’re going to have to take it from here because I am certain that I’ve come to the absolute end of my abilities.” There have been many times when I made these declarations with great confidence, fully believing that God would make a way out of no way. But at other times, I whispered them with uncertainty, feeling defeated by unchanging circumstances. And I’ll admit that there have been times when I flung angry accusations at God from a place of deep pain: “You’re the only one who can do something about this, but you seem completely unwilling to show up for me!”
Whether I made these statements in trust, uncertainty, or anger, two faith commitments have become apparent: 1) I believe that God is with me, otherwise I wouldn’t be talking to God about it in the first place. 2) I believe that the God who is always with me will also show up in particularly powerful ways. I've learned that God doesn’t show up all the time, and that I can neither initiate or calculate God’s appearance, but I like Advent because it affirms my own weird faith and fuels my hope for what is possible.
I also appreciate the idea that the God who is already here will also show up because I suspect that we start to forget what God looks like when we haven’t seen God in a while. Between visitations we are likely to conflate God’s image with idols of human creation. So, the longer it’s been since we’ve seen God, the more male, and white, and wealthy, and exclusionary (and small) God can become. We forget that Jesus was brown and poor and embracing of those that others had cast aside. When we haven’t seen God in a while, we forget that God is non-binary and “weird”...like Advent. God is too big to fit in our boxes, too spirit to predict, too generous to commodify, and too just to always be on my side. Sometimes we need God to show up just so we can take a good look!
Isn’t that what the voice in Isaiah is imploring us to do--to get a good look? At the same time it reminds us that doing so will require some prep work because the space we hold in the world gives us a certain vantage point that can distort God’s image. A bit of grading is required if we want to have a good line of sight. That might mean digging away at our privilege, shifting our focus from problems to possibilities, or removing some things that obscure our view. Maybe it's all of the above.
Consider doing a little land leveling this Advent so that whenever God shows up, we can get a good look.