Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Gift is Bigger than the World (Reflections on the Third Sunday in Advent)

This is the irrational season
where love blooms bright and wild
had Mary been filled with reason, 
there'd have been no room for the Child. - Madaleine L'Engle

Advent is the excavation of our hearts. We begin to clean, dust off the cobwebs of the year, the words we collected, the stories we've been harboring, the sorrows and wild joys. In Advent we are making ourselves ready for the coming of Emmanuel. God with us. This Advent season, I want to offer a few reflections every week, to excavate my own heart and to prepare for Him with you. 

Third Sunday of Advent

Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come 
among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, 
let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver 
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and 
the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end. 

The third Sunday in Advent is always the Sunday of paradox. Great might comes among us in the baby born in a manger in a no-name town to an unmarried woman, in the middle of the night, surrounded by cattle. Can you imagine it? The God who is YHWH, who is un-Nameable, who parts the Red Sea and sends manna - He sends a child.

Some days I think that gift isn't big enough for the world. 

I look at my own heartbreak and say, "The child's not big enough." I look at the sorrow overflowing in homes and say, "He can't fix it." I look out at the world that bleeds and bends with poverty, and thirst, and hunger, with injustice and war and anger, and I look up at heaven and say: "You sent... A BABY?"

Have you ever wondered about this radical story we call Christmas? How we pin our hope of redemption, our hope in love, our hope in all that is beautiful and true and good, inside the womb of a young girl? Sometimes it feels like foolishness. What can this Child do? What injustice can he make right? What world can he make new? What great might does he have?

But this is the bountiful, overflowing grace of it all. The Child in the manger is the stirred up power of the Almighty. He chooses this way - the way of helplessness to save us who are helpless. He chooses humility to conquer. He chooses to trust the humans who have proven themselves untrustworthy. He chooses to send Love to us, when we have rejected it a thousand, thousand times.

The Child isn't too small for this world; we are too small for the Child. Our hearts are not wide enough yet to hold Him. It's us, dear readers, not the gift. The gift is bigger than my broken heart. The gift is bigger than your chaotic, unending week of frustration. The gift is bigger than the injustices we cry out against. The gift is bigger than the hunger and thirst and war and devastation.

This gift, that shatters metaphysics and epistemology and ethics, the gift remakes the meaning of Love. And if we let it, the gift will remake us. It will open us until we are big enough to hold Him.

May the gift of this Child fling wide your heart this week. 



  1. this is beautiful hilary. thank you for teaching me through the advent season - your words are full of truth and beauty - something i always need :)

  2. Hilary, you write with such beauty,... I read your posts all through Advent, though I didn't always make it back to say so... thank you for your faith, for living it and learning it here, where we can all be a part of your journey... God is doing so much in and throug you... Blessings, sweet friend.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...