present, humble, vulnerable.

open* this is part of the second november synchroblog is to celebrate the beginning of the season of advent.  the theme different bloggers are writing on is:  jesus is coming: what are we expecting?   come back & check out the links of other bloggers writing on this topic at the bottom of this post  (they will be added over the next week) and you can go over to christine sine’s blog this month for daily posts centered on this theme, too.

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“he has filled the hungry with good things” – mary’s song,  luke 1:53

until 5 years ago i never celebrated the season of advent and the weeks leading up to christmas.  honoring the church calendar was just not something i was taught, but over the past few years i have really come to appreciate the beauty & intention that comes from it.  at the same time, i am not crazy over the typical definition of “expectation”, probably because it can be such a loaded word when it comes to some christian things.  it can sometimes feel a little bit too demanding for me on one end or setting myself up for disappointment on another. it’s tricky for me to say “this advent season i expect….”  a phrase that helps me with this is to substitute the word “expecting” with “being open to”.

so, if i were re-framing this entire phrase, it would be:  Jesus is coming:  what do i want to be open to?

when i am open, i am present.  i am not thinking about the next thing i need to do but rather am present in the moment i’m currently in. i have room to listen, notice, experience.

when i am open, i am humble.  i do not have everything all figured out.  i am not closed off & hardened.  my heart is soft & tender to God and other people.

when i am open, i am vulnerable.  i am willing to feel, the good things & the bad, to let in the beauty & the ugly and somehow trust that God is at work in it all.

it is quite clear to me that none of these things are my first reflexes!

when i think of the christmas story & the events leading up to the birth of Jesus, mary’s “openness” comes to mind.  she embodied being present, humble, and vulnerable.  i feel fairly positive she had to be terrified in every imaginable way. i do not think the cleaned-up stories we read about mary are what it really looked or felt like for her in the moment. she was human and experienced fear & shame & doubt & confusion & trust & hope & joy just like we do.  there are many different ways the story could have unfolded, but she chose the path of openness. of staying present, humble, and vulnerable in the midst of great travail.

like his earthly mother, Jesus embodied these three qualities, too–presence, humility, and  vulnerability. all three are easy to talk about but tricky to live out.  the pull toward busyness & thinking 10 steps ahead, self-centeredness, hardening and protecting our hearts & time, and a host of other distractions is really strong.

so what i am i trying to be open–present, humble, and vulnerable–to this advent season?

i want to be open to be awed by the little & beautiful things that i intersect with over the next few weeks that i might count as ordinary.  i want to be open to God’s story being told in my life & the life of my friends. i want to be open to see slivers of light in the darkness. i want to be open to feel the ground underneath my feet instead of moving so fast.  i want to be open to laughter and joy  in the midst of carrying my friends’ real burdens & pain.  i want to be open to experiencing peace & a sense of gentle strength in midst of the craziness of these busy & fast next few weeks.  i want to be open to being patient & waiting instead of being impatient & demanding. i want to be open to God’s hope.

i know that this is a season of waiting for Jesus to “come” but it also helps me to remember Jesus is already “here.”  working, challenging, healing, illuminating, strengthening, comforting, encouraging, revealing his story to us in our real lives, offering hope.

this advent season, God help me be open–to be present, humble, vulnerable . 

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here are some other advent posts i’ve written for the past years & synchroblogs.  yep, same song, different tune!

ps: that guest post i wrote over at rachel held evans’ blog–insecure christians–has a pile of comments that have stirred up all kinds of feelings, both oh-i-so-agree ones & contrary ones.  i definitely am going to have to do a part 2 over here to process some of it.  it is so funny to me, how by saying that maybe there might be some good in us from the beginning since God made us in his image people get in an uproar, thinking i am dismissing sin & brokenness.  it still baffles me that it’s heretical.   people, good & bad can exist together, for goodness sake!  we are living paradoxes. the problem i see is that many of us are blinded by the bad & completely forget the good and the church typically doesn’t help with that in a practical way.  anyway, look forward to hearing some of your thoughts on it next week.   happy thanksgiving & first week of advent!

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other advent synchrobloggers // more coming through the 1st week of advent:

 

 

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

18 Comments

  • So good, thank you! I have been thinking so much about what I want and need from God in 2012(!) and through this impending holiday season.. I want to be open to beauty, and to see it in the midst of a fog. I have a bunch of things for the kiddos planned surrounding the nativity scene, and I smile thinking that what we sometimes present is all cleaned up. I am working on sharing with them both,you know, sorting out the good vs. the bad. 😉 That is what I am focusing on personally this holiday season; that unexpected birth is not all pretty and glorious, but so worth it.

    Oh, and this is my favorite line: “i want to be open to God’s story being told in my life & the life of my friends. i want to be open to see slivers of light in the darkness.” I am so grateful that you can see those things in my life when I can’t. 🙂

    Reply
    • ah, paradox. the words we love to hate 🙂 but oh so helpful to embrace. love ya!

      Reply
  • Great post- there is something transformationally possible when we dare to be present; may advent blessings be yours in abundance!

    Reply
    • thanks, sally, i am looking forward to reading these posts. “daring to be present”, love that thought.

      Reply
  • Pingback: Antithetical Advent « breathe
  • I’m so embarassed to realise that, until this year, i hadn’t actually realised what ‘advent’ meant. It’s not all about a little calendar counting down the days till Dec 25- who knew? But this year I’m reflecting using some Jesuit writings from ‘Sacred Space’. There’s a real richness there, i’m finding.

    I love the way you use a reflection on the qualities of Mary here. I’ve always thought of Mary as being a strong and bolsie character; she must have been fairly tough and determined, as well as those other things, to have survived.

    Eva

    Reply
    • thanks, eva, yeah, it’s interesting how many of our traditions didn’t include centering on the beauty of this season in that way. i read today a little piece from richard rohr that said some other words for advent are: “aware, alive, attentive, alert, and awake.” yes, may we be more of those things, not just this season but always!

      Reply
    • thanks my dear! happy advent to you…i always think of you on these seasons 🙂

      Reply
  • Kathy,
    Wonderful, as always. It is so true that it is easy to talk and write about these, but so much more difficult to live them. However, from the bit I have been able to get to know you, I think you reveal these things well. Keep leading the way!

    Reply
    • oh no question, talk is easy & i’d much rather talk about it than live it, ha ha. i was thinking that this week, just how hard it is to make ourselves vulnerable, especially when we’ve been hurt, but how without it, the good doesn’t come in either. glad that we can keep learning together out here!

      Reply
  • Pingback: We’re Expecting a Baby! | Wendy McCaig

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