During Advent Time, we ponder the mysterious. We press into the promises that seem too good to be true and the waiting for events we long to experience. As we examine the names of our God in Isaiah chapter 9, we will ponder His Almighty Power. Our God is, after all, the God of the universe: The one who holds all things in His hand and who spoke into being the cosmos. When we ponder who God is, we might feel like we do when looking up at a clear night sky, or the vast ocean, or even a great cathedral. We are brought to a place of utter wonderment and awe. God is a Being too big for our finite and limited capacity of understanding. We have no category for His majesty in this world. It is right that we are left baffled and speechless. Listen as the Psalmist ponders these very things:
Psalm 8:1–4 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Meditating on the magnitude of Almighty God is enough for anyone to become confused or left in wonderment, yet we are faced with the most amazing and contradictory of mysteries during Advent and Christmastime. Almighty God comes to Earth, not as a blazing bolt of light, a thunderous voice, or a hurricane force wind, but as a baby- a poor baby. He comes as a baby born to a teenager, who is not in her home, and will be on the run as a refugee with her infant. The Messiah. Immanuel, God with us. Is this our Almighty God? Is this the one who hung the stars in place? The hymn Joy Has Dawned echos this mystery eloquently: “Hands that set each star in place, shaped the earth in darkness, cling now to a mother’s breast, vulnerable and helpless.” Meditate on this: our Almighty God, human, helpless, completely dependent on his mother.
It is difficult enough to consider the amazing almighty power of God and even harder to ponder His humble humanity. But what about us? How do we fit into this puzzle? Consider the needs of the infant God, called Jesus. Unlike other mammals, human babies have no ability to care for themselves for several years. They are completely dependent on the care of others for survival. Our God Almighty chose to use OUR hands and OUR loving embrace to care for, feed, clothe and protect God incarnate, Jesus. These seemingly thankless, humble, and small tasks sustained life for our Almighty God. The day in, day out responsibility of keeping an infant alive is no small task, yet it is one of the most intimate, significant, and important tasks given to us. The days are hard, yet they are filled with intense intimacy, love, connection, and joy. Human connection, and especially a human of your own blood, is one of the most powerful and deep connections we can experience. What is beautiful about the incarnation is what God teaches us in the way He comes. It seems that, in the incarnation, our God is highlighting what is truly the most powerful and mighty expression there is: love and relationship. This love for His people is what sent Jesus to us in order to free us from the bondage of sin and to restore intimacy with His people in relationship. Sometimes, the strongest and most significant things are in the small and hidden places, like a cave or a barn in Bethlehem. God chose to be in intimate relationship with us and did it in the most humble, vulnerable, and powerful way. He called us to be with and commune with Him in small, ordinary ways and in the places that no one sees and with the ones who are cast aside.
Embrace the mystery this season, that the Almighty, Infinite, All-Powerful God, not only became human, but chose to enter into humanity in a poor and vulnerable state, dependent upon the ordinary, mundane care of an ordinary family. As Mary quietly and unceremoniously ushered her newborn baby into ordinary human existence and cared for him in the same humble, small ways that parents have cared for their families for centuries before and since, be moved to invite Jesus into the ordinary, forgotten, and dark places of your hearts. These are the places the Almighty God has humbled Himself to enter into and to ultimately transform.
The Lectionary Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent
The Book of Common Prayer Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent
Merciful God, who didst send thy messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the HolySpirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.