So the Word became human and made his home among us. (John 1:14a NLT)
And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. (John 1:14a TLV)
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. (John 1:14a Message)
And the Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14a NRSV)
I was talking to some other pastors the other day and someone asked, “Can y’all believe it’s nearly Advent”’ To which another responded, "That can’t be right, it’s only been Lent for 2 years, we have 38 more to go… “
It may not seem obvious, with the lights glittering and stores decorated but Lent and Advent are very similar seasons. They even share liturgical colors. The Lenten elements of discipline and preparation fit well with the central advent theme of ‘expectant hope.’ Expectant hope is confident but not yet fulfilled by definition. So there is faithful waiting, work and even weariness on the road to Bethlehem and the birth of hope in human flesh in Jesus. I do not know about you, but for me this year more than ever, I am in need of embracing and practicing an expectant hope.
The gospel of John does not start with Mary and Joseph, it begins at the very beginning of all things. John opens by declaring that the Word was there all along in the creating and crafting of the world and that the Word was identical with the person and power of God, and that there was light within the Word that darkness cannot overcome. Then in verse 14 of John’s opening chapter, we are told of the incarnation the taking on of human flesh and form of this Word. You can see above a few translations of this incredible passage. The Word we are told, 'made his home…lived among us…moved into the neighborhood…tabernacled…'
Advent is the season of confident and desperate hope that God would ‘move into the neighborhood.’ It wouldn’t be merely nice, or improve things a bit because we are hungry for redemptive love to again make its ‘home among us.’ We again need to see and celebrate the Word becoming flesh and blood.
I am careful to avoid encouraging anyone to make decisions that are harmful to their health (or the health of those in their care), but I do want to extend an invitation to anyone who can, to consider being physically present for worship this Advent and Christmas season. In this celebration of the incarnation, it seems fitting for bodies distanced by technology and pandemics to again gather and sing of light the darkness cannot overcome. Whether a normal Sunday morning worship service during Advent, Family Advent Night on Dec. 9th, the Outdoor Christmas Concert on Dec. 12th, The Foundry hosting Jingle Ales at The Well on Dec. 16th, and/or a Christmas Eve Service on Dec. 24th, I hope I get a chance to see you, and for you to see each other show up.
Virtually or physically, I pray that this season restores our hope and grows an appreciation for the gift of presence and power God.
In expectant hope,