This is the meditation I wrote that appears in a reading and reflection in Liberti Church’s Advent 2013 Prayerbook, which can be downloaded for free.
There is an incredibly profound way in which we don’t feel at Home in our own humanity.
Too often, Christians see their own personal spiritual growth as a loss, a lessening, or an abandoning of their own humanity. This can lead us to subtly use people and things to try and find our soul’s Home. And so we awake to find anxiety, manipulation, doubt, guilt, and self-loathing ruling and reigning so many parts of our lives and relationships. (Am I alone in this?)
We can sometimes think of Christianity as a process of our souls leaving the “Home” of their weakened humanity and finding a “new, spiritual Home” in Jesus. The logic goes that you were originally one way, then Jesus “saved” you, and now you are able (and are commanded) to be something else, now that you are His.
But Advent radically flies in the face of this.
Advent tells us that Jesus did not come to make us something we were not, but to make us most truly who we actually have been all along; to bring about the rule and reign of the King under whose authority we are most free to become who we are apart from the self-disfiguring effects of sin and brokenness.
In other words, he comes to clean out the Home of our humanity of all that threatens the peace, safety, security, love, and affirmation that should mark a home. And then he tells us to rest and flourish in that Home.
In coming among us, Jesus shows us that he is in the business of renovation, not demolition.
Advent shows us that growing and changing as a Christian is not a process of growing “upward” towards becoming more like this amazing “super”-human that always seems to be out of our reach. God is not “above us” demanding we be like Him, but he has come down on our behalf and taken on a body and humanity as it was meant to be lived. And so to be a Christian, and to be “Christ-like”, is, essentially, to be more human, not less. To feel our humanity as Home.
Christ’s Coming in Advent reminds us that God not only loves us, he also actually likes us—even as we live and move and breathe and screw up under the gracious and loving rule of His Kingdom. He delights in us in the fullness of our beautiful humanity which he took on himself. He does not see right past us or through us. He respects us with the dignity owed to those made in his image.
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
This season, as you notice those ways you don’t feel at Home in your body, your mind, your life, and you heart, may you be reminded that this is the same humanity—in all its weakness and frailty—that God Himself was overjoyed to make his Home. And he has. Let us rejoice.
[image credit: “Madeleine” by Istvan Sandorfi]