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Twenty-first day of Advent: prayer

“How badly do you want Christ this Advent?”

It’s a question posed in an Advent reflection, and it stops me cold because I know the answer, and the answer’s not pretty.

The answer is: not very much, not as much as I should.

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It’s the twenty-first day of Advent. It’s the weekend of the fourth Sunday of Advent. Next week is Christmas.

I ought to be feeling my need for Christ and Christ’s fulfillment even more than when I started these Advent reflections, but this morning feels like an ordinary day, a day like any other. I want Advent to be an orderly progression, a gradual opening of the heart over these twenty-five days, a linear strengthening of the heart’s desire with each post penned, but it’s not.

I think maybe I can go into the living room, which my grandmother has decorated with Santa’s house on the coffee table and a small tree in the corner and a red and white hat lying on the couch for anyone to try on as they please, but what will that get me, really? It’s in my heart where the seed of desire lies.

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How does one desire God, really?

God, who is greater than the gray ocean that swells and falls; God, who is more powerful than thunder; God, who is more beautiful than the face of a beloved; God, who is more loving than a mother to her child.

How do I fit God into my mind, which is buzzing with small worries? How do I fit God into my heart, which is darkened by splotches of sin?

*

Every morning I’m relearning the truth: I don’t need to fit God anywhere; He molds Himself for me, and if I don’t desire God, I can pray, and God will meet me.

How often I doubt the power of God.

The writer Annie Dillard says we ought to wear crash helmets in church to protect us from the power of God, and I think, that’s right! Yes! Yes, we should!

So, on this the twenty-first day of Advent, I pray the simple, short prayer repeated many times in many churches across the world, put on my figurative crash helmet, and wait:

Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
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