For the third year now, I’ve been following Advent readings from the book “Watch for the Light“. One of the readings was this poem by Jane Kenyon, it’s titled “Mosiac of the Nativity: Serbia, Winter, 1993”:
On the domed ceiling God is thinking: I made them my joy, and everything else I created I made to bless them. But see what they do! I know their hearts and arguments: “We’re descended from Cain. Evil is nothing new, so what does it matter now if we shell the infirmary, and the well where the fearful and rash alike must come for water?” God thinks Mary into being. Suspended at the apogee of the golden dome, she curls in a brown pod, and inside her the mind of Christ, cloaked in blood, lodges and begins to grow.Jane Kenyon, “Mosaic of the Nativity: Serbia, Winter, 1993” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon.
This poem hit me hard this year. Particularly with the invasion of Ukraine this year, the second verse of the poem reminded me of the bombing of the Mauripol theater that women and children were sheltering in, one of many atrocities that we’ve seen.
The scale of human suffering, so much of it that we inflict on each other, is unbearable. And what does God do with all that?
“God thinks Mary into being… and inside her the mind of Christ, cloaked in blood, lodges and begins to grow.”
Is a baby really going to be enough? Enough to get humanity off an evil course and back on track? What possible difference could a baby make? It reminds me of this line from the song “Seasons”:
You’re the God of greatnessLyrics from “Seasons”. Words and Music by Chris Davenport, Benjamin Hastings & Ben Tan. Published by Hillsong.
Even in a manger
For all I know of seasons
Is that you take your time
You could have saved us in a second
Instead you sent a child
This contrast perhaps says something about God, and about the gift humanity wanted vs the gift humanity needed: power vs vulnerability, force vs weakness, hard logic vs trust, quick results vs patience.
Considering our need, the gift most of us would ask for would be the forceful intervention. And yet at Christmas we Christians reflect on the fact that’s not the gift God choose to give us. Instead, God sent a child.
In what areas are you praying for God’s forceful intervention, and instead God is doing something small and fragile, slow and vulnerable?
Where are you using your own power and influence to force a quick solution, when perhaps there’s a less expected approach God is initiating?
Advent is about making space for God to come.
And its quite likely that the way God comes among us now will be in a gentler, slower, easier to ignore, less obvious, more vulnerable form than we want.
The work of advent isn’t for us to take the initiative and plan how God will come, but to make space, to wait, and to commit to that way.
To respond as Mary did, “May it be to me as you have said”.