He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. – Luke 1:52-53
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. – 1 Peter 4:10
The Incarnation was an act of greatest love and imagination. The Word that spoke the world into being became a speechless infant. The one for whom the heavens are home descended to a place where, even in birth, there was no room for him. The one outside of time broke into time to utter hope of what would come. And he came not riding the back of the sea or seated on the clouds or warring forward with gleam and sword, but inside human flesh that he might love us whole by his suffering, death, and resurrection.
God’s imagination is born forward through his Word, in creating the world and sustaining it and in the Incarnation. His Word becomes story, in which we live and move, and we participate in the particular ways it unfolds. This is a deeply ennobling calling, and it’s why I think often of the parable of the talents wherein the master returns and hears what his servants have done with the little entrusted to them. Or of the ten virgins, half of whom prepared well with extra oil, and half of whom didn’t.
The season of Advent invites us to prepare for Christ’s coming, and given the ample distractions of the “holiday season,” such inner preparation takes intention, time, and quietness. It takes reminding ourselves how temporary the things of this world, how short-sighted the loves by which it tries to woo us, and that Christ invites us to a new narrative, a new way of living.
We practice Advent to focus ourselves on the true story of Christmas and to deepen our remembrance of his first coming. We prepare because he still comes to our door even now and will return to us in fullness in the second Advent. Our preparation in an active one, one that anticipates his coming and listens daily.
We are the foolish servants, the foolish bridesmaids, if we wait passively. In everything we do, whether washing dishes or teaching seminars, we can attend to God’s presence and work with love for his kingdom, remembering that we prepare for his return, and not only for ourselves, but for others. The light that we carry in ourselves has been given us for the good of all.
Because of the eternal reverberation of everything here, let us continually orient ourselves to God’s story and God’s glory, abiding in him that he may grow in us good fruit. Let us be stewards that preserve the world’s abundance and rich interdependence. Let us look at one another in recognition that each is made in God’s image and beloved by him. Let us speak in ways that motion forth the beauty, goodness, and truth of God’s kingdom, and let silence be our close companion. Let us be creative in doing good, listening well and responding particularly to the needs around us, that we might use our energies, talents, resources, and circumstances for the flourishing of our communities.
May our lives be like the star that captivated the magi from the East, drawing them toward Jesus, before whom they knelt and brought their choicest gifts.
Purify our consciences by your daily visitation, that when your Son our Lord comes, he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. – Book of Common Prayer