December 3, 2012
"Prepare ye the way of the Lord!"
Reflection by Matt Laney
I can't say I enjoy housecleaning.
But I do get motivated to clean house when guests are due to arrive. Sometimes my wife, Ann, and I look around and say, "The place is getting pretty messy. Who should we invite over?"
That's what Advent is about: feeling the blessed pressure to clean house and make room for the divine guest in Christ, the one who comes to take up residence in us.
Advent comes from the Latin, advenit, meaning "He comes!" and would be best prefaced by the Latin equivalent of "Yikes!" to conjure up all the attendant feelings of expectation and anxiety that come with preparing for a special guest. To call the divine guest "special" is an exercise in understatement. The idea of hosting human royalty would throw most of us into a royal panic, but God!?
Astoundingly, and luckily for us, God does an end run around our housecleaning and arrives in one of the messiest, dirtiest places on earth: a barn. And this is only the very beginning of the story! Clearly this is a God who loves surprises and defies expectations. But then again, what else would we expect from a God who, at the beginning of the biblical story, fashioned human beings out of dirt and breathed into them the breath of life?
Cleaning up for guests, including God, is good. But the good news is God is perfectly comfortable with our dirt… even the dirt we deny and aggressively attempt to sweep out the back door of our lives before the guest takes notice.
Lord, help us to prepare diligently for you while knowing there is no way we can possibly be ready for such astonishing and earthy grace. Amen.
About the Author
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.
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