Third day of Advent: discomfort

December 2, 2014 § 2 Comments

I see a string of days leading up to December 25, each made singular by this practice of getting up, pouring coffee, sitting down, and writing. I’ve always loved writing because writing takes the muddy thoughts in the back of my mind and moulds them into coherent sentences. By writing about Advent, I better understand what Advent is.

If Advent is about waiting, what are we waiting for?

This question scares me. I’m not sure I want to mould the answer, because moulding the answer means staring the answer directly in the face. And when I lock eyes with it, I have to reckon with its truth – and wrestle with my doubt that it’s true.

The answer is, we wait for Christ.

It’s an innocuous answer, if we don’t think too much about it. We know the story of the birth of Christ. We read it at Christmas Eve services and reenact it in nativity plays. We know the story of the death of Christ, and His resurrection too. We also hear that Christ will come again.

But then we think about it more. God, a being more infinite than the expansive sparkling blackness of outer space, more powerful than an avalanche roaring down the side of Mount Everest, more loving than all the love of all the mothers that ever lived combined. God, moulded into the form of a tiny, helpless baby laid on scratchy, smelly straw?

I suppose it could have happened as long as it happened long ago in a backwards time that I don’t have to know too much about or think about too often. I suppose.

I suppose it might happen again as long as it doesn’t happen this century while I’m enjoying my slick silver laptop and jetting off on airplanes to visit friends and shopping for organic food at Trader Joe’s. I suppose.

But it’s Advent, and I’m writing about Advent, and while I’m writing about Advent, I’m thinking about God being born as a tiny baby in a manger on a night in the past and I’m thinking about God returning to Earth sometime in the future, and all this thinking about God being born on Earth once and maybe twice is more than I’m used to and it’s making me uncomfortable.

After all, this is the 21st century. In less than an hour, I’ll be zipping down the highway into the center of a city of towering skyscrapers. This talk about God and God being born as a baby doesn’t fit my modern world.

Advent is making me uncomfortable.

But beneath the discomfort, I know a deeper, paradoxical truth: discomfort is good.

Discomfort is a crick in my neck that I ease by stretching. It’s a hunger in my belly I satisfy by eating. It’s a branch in my side I remove by moving.

Discomfort leads to movement, and spiritual movement leads to deeper understanding. This moulding of muddy thoughts and facing the truth is hard, but good.

So just for fun, and just because it’s uncomfortable, I’ll answer the question again.

If Advent is for waiting, what are we waiting for?

The answer is, we wait for Christ.

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