It’s advent, the season of expectant waiting. In my life, the spirit of Christmas doesn’t magically appear anymore. I veritably bristled when I saw my first retail Christmas display just after Hallowe’en, luring us to buy, buy, buy our way into the Christmas spirit. It hadn’t yet awoken when the keen neighbour’s decorations went up, and was barely stirring when the easy-listening station switched to all Christmas music. So I’m nurturing expectant hope this advent by creating space for it. I’ve strung up the lights, tuned into the Christmas station a few times, but what expands my advent-space widest is sitting in my prayer chair, lights low and music soft, reading advent devotions nightly.
This weekend I’m definitely celebrating an advent theme. I enjoyed a medieval musical Christmas show Friday, there’s a candelight carol sing Sunday, and tonight’s delight was attending Jeanine Noyes‘ “He is Here” concert. Jeanine is a gifted singer/songwriter, and she brought us to joyous ecstacy, then quiet reflection, with her melodious voice and talented band. But the most profound moment for me was when Dale Yim performed Tom Carson’s poem, “Snow Angel.” Snow melted on my tongue like the eucharist – how profound! But instead of Tom’s imaginary priest, I envisioned God serving us communion personally, the vaulted ceiling of his cathedral shimmering with snowflakes. Almost too small and fragile for us to glimpse with naked eye, the splendor of each flake fills the night sky with diamonds! The hush they create is loquacious – as Tom put it, I wish I spoke star… Then God bends down and serves us communion… my heart explodes visualising the image.
God, we long to see you! At advent, we remember when it was once possible; the expectant hope is that we’ll have that chance again. We wish it was with our eyes, but I think you hide yourself from eyes so we’ll learn to see you with other senses. Help us see you in your creation. Let us envision you playing in Orion’s nebula, behind the stardust so we can’t make you out. Let us notice your handiwork in the intricacy of snowflakes, and how colourfully you decorate ocean depths. You don’t paint them for human enjoyment, but solely for your delight. Especially, God, help us to recognise you in human faces, where you breathed the spirit of God when you created us in your image. Help us not scar our (and others’) faces with the blows of life; help us wash off the dust so your spirit glows. But mostly, God, help us recognize you in others. Readily, warmly, embracingly.
As I’ve explored my longing to see God tonight, and my desire to have my expectant hope fulfilled physically, I’ve remembered that God is indeed visible to me every day – he’s just in a different body, rather a multitude of bodies, than the one he incarnated millenia ago. Then, we could see him face to face, but in just one time and place. Now, we can experience him more closely, all the time, if there is room in the inn of our hearts for him.
Peace of Christ to you this Christmas.