The following is a transcript of a Raised Catholic podcast episode. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Today is episode 49: Advent: Behold Your God
Well, hello friends. You can feel it in the air, it is that time of the year again. To be honest, the last several years have not found me very excited for Christmas. I would describe that feeling as more ‘overwhelm’, and maybe that was about the task list that mostly falls to mothers this time of year, or about the clutter that overtakes my small home, or maybe it’s about the start of the cold, dark and snowy winter season that I have never particularly loved. I’ve always been kind of a spring girl, myself. But this year feels different somehow. This year I’m welcoming Advent on new terms, and in this episode, I’d love to share some ideas about how you can do that, too.
As I’m writing this, my pup Bailey is chasing a triangle of sunlight around the living room rug in which to rest, and I’ll share a picture of that in the blog post that goes with this episode because not only is she completely adorable, but it’s a perfect picture of how we can mark and celebrate Advent well this year. Yes, it’s chilly and dark out there. Yes, it’s hard to deny what the prophet Isaiah and Handel’s Messiah call the “gross darkness of the people” these days. But, friend, we are people of the light. We are people designed to look for, magnify, and dwell in light, even and especially in the dark. So, how can we do that?
Like Mary did, it’s about saying yes and it’s about making space. At the Annunciation, an angel came to Mary with a wild plan, asking that she, a fifteen-year-old-or-so girl, would bear the Son of God for all of humanity. Saying yes to the angel’s proposal would crater Mary’s own plans and uproot her whole life – she had no real idea of the suffering that would visit her with her ‘yes’, but Mary did say yes to God and so can we. Being intentional about our ‘yes’ to relationship with God and to what He longs to bring forth in us – well, that would be the very best way for us to use this season, so how can we do that?
Like Mary, we can connect with people, and we can make space. I love the account in the Gospel of Luke, where it says that Mary “hurried” to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, to share the news of the great thing that God had done. The pure joy in the encounter between these two women spills out of the page as you read this account, and I’ll link to that in the show notes so that you can read it for yourself, but short version is that Elizabeth calls Mary “blessed” for believing that the Lord would fulfill His promises, and Mary’s words in return, which are now called her ‘Magnificat’, shimmer with the reality that her soul really is glorifying the Lord – magnifying Him in a broken world. Gosh, I love that, don’t you?
Have you ever felt that feeling of magnifying God, of making Him known and seen to people? Maybe you’ve felt Him present within your soul in prayer in a way you couldn’t describe, or you found yourself saying or doing just the right thing for a friend in need, knowing that those words, action, or inspiration came from God and not from you? It’s the best soul feeling in the world, like hitting a baseball in the sweet spot of a bat. I believe that’s what Heaven will feel like when we get there someday.
Mary made space in her home, her calendar, her plans, and her own body for Jesus to grow and to be born to a waiting world, and we can do that, too, in practical ways. We can set aside time for more prayer and reflection, and I have lots of ideas for you in the show notes about that. We can light a candle, listen to reflective music, pray or journal with specially designed Advent resources or with Scripture. We can be purposeful about quiet, about service, and about connection, as Mary was. With everything we’ve endured and continue to endure during this pandemic and so much strife, let’s not have an ‘ordinary’ Advent or Christmas season this year. Like Mary, we can contemplate what it really means to allow God to grow in us and to bring Him to others, and each of us is suited to do just that in our own unique ways, in this specific time, in our own circles of influence. After all, I can’t bring Jesus to your co-workers, but you can. I won’t have the same spark of inspiration or talent around how to serve God’s people that you will. So, actively making space to receive God and then, to share Him in ways that are designed especially for us – that’s what Advent is really all about.
Last year, when the churches were closed or limited in attendance due to the pandemic, my music minister husband and I, with the help of our son, made a video of beloved Advent and Christmas music for the people in our church community who wouldn’t be able, for lots of reasons, to attend mass. It was a relatively simple thing for us to do because we’re seasoned music ministers and we have tons of experience with all of those songs, but my husband was skeptical. Tim didn’t think anyone would listen, or maybe more to the point, he wanted it to be perfect and felt a little out of practice, but I assured him that our job as Christians, or really our job as humans, was to give out of what we had, in this case, music. No one expects perfection but we can all give what we have, just like the shepherds and the wise men did. When each of us gives what we already have, we just may find that our gifts come together to make something that is more than enough.
Finally, friend, I want to make an important point here about Advent and that is that Advent is not Lent. It’s not about sacrificing, like, at all, but it is about anticipation and preparation. Marking Advent well turns Christmas into the peaceful, joyful, and fruitful season it was designed to be. So, as we make space in our hearts for Jesus to be born anew, as we consider ways to bring Him to the people in our circles, as we prepare our homes with wreaths and candles with their liturgical colors – like Mary, our spirits can rejoice in God who saves us. Because, friend, this season is all about expectant joy. In this dark world, there’s a new light bursting in. Do you feel it? I do, so let’s make room. Together, let’s behold our good God as He is. Let’s welcome Him in, feel a new thrill of hope, and share Him with this weary world that really needs Him today. Friend, are you in?
Well, thanks so much for listening today, friend. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. There are SO MANY resources in today’s show notes – music and study and so much that I want to share with you so that you can explore this season in a deeper way, so please do check those out. Thanks to those who are subscribing, rating, reviewing, and sharing this podcast – I really appreciate all of that as it helps our community to grow. Before we end today, let’s pray together.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Oh God, in these days that can feel a bit dark, help us please to seek and follow your light as the shepherds followed a star. Help us to make space for You to grow in us and to share You with others, as your Mother did. Help us to offer whatever we have for the good of our brothers and sisters as your first disciples did, and God we ask for Your peace and direction for us and our dear ones in this beautiful season we’re given. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
Thanks again for listening, and I’ll see you next time.