We’re excited to share a number of Advent Reflections with you in the run up to Christmas this year, from a number of different voices in our church family.
Our hope is that as you take a moment to pause, to read and to reflect, you would experience the hope and anticipation of waiting for Jesus as we remember his first arrival all those years ago in Bethlehem, and live in expectation of his glorious return.
So, when I was asked to write an advent reflection I was determined to write something deep, meaningful, articulate and original…then I re-read my copy of Preparing For Christmas by Richard Rohr and realised that ship had already sailed.
And alas, alongside my dreams of playing professional basketball, having a Nando’s black card and joining the national bobsled team with Santino (can you imagine it)…revered theologian now sits atop the bonfire of what could have been for me.
Yet here we remain, because Sarah clearly doesn’t have Richard in the contacts so the moustached-man from Edgeley will have to do as a stand in.
I have grown to love Advent over the years. I have come to realise that we tell the story differently according to how we stand, how we see and what we face ahead of us. Thus, each year the story of Jesus’ birth feels new, which is pretty apt all things considered.
This year, I see the Incarnation through one word. Home. After a year where I have spent a lot of time at home (at one point this year, I honestly considered a trip to the bins a night out) I read the story with location and comfort front of mind.
Mary and Joseph had to leave home to go home. And if I had a Gandalf-esque wise man’s beard I would stop to stroke it for a bit after a sentence of that quality. And in a pandemic year when movement has been prescribed, limited and home has become a place of both comfort and discomfort…I see, yet again, how Jesus entered into our world to participate and integrate with the human experience. He wasn’t distant from us, He was one of us.
And in returning to Joseph’s family home, the parents of God didn’t exactly have the Renaissance-era greetings card experience we’ve seen so often. It was far from comfortable and – although the text doesn’t explicitly say this – we all know a few tense words were shared between the couple. No idea how that consideration might have any relevance to 2020, just saying.
And so this year, we’ll be celebrating Christmas at home. And in many ways it might not feel like home. Maybe we cannot be with everyone we want to, maybe there’s somebody who is now gone from the table. Maybe we’re just tired and exhausted from a year of trying to keep up with everything that’s been happening.
However this season finds you and whatever complicated mix of emotions and reflections you hold, I think we can see fragments of our story in Jesus’. And thus we know He is in the fragmented and fractured story of our 2020 too.
He is with us. At home, and yet feeling far from home. In a year where not much has gone to plan. He is with us.
I can take comfort in that.
Andy Kelham (yes he chose this photo)