We lit the love candle tonight at Collective, the fourth in the series of advent. I love the practice of lighting advent candles in our faith community and in our home. It is an intentional way of slowing down the season and invites us into a reflective posture to contemplate and rediscover the longing and fulfillment of the Christmas story and what it means for us today. The stories around the birth begin the illustration of the unusual, countercultural, boundary breaking way of life that Jesus would lead and invite us into. It fits with the tone of the prophets throughout the Old Testament who were always ‘swimming upstream’ culturally. Choosing to follow the way of Jesus in our place and time puts us in line with this tradition of the unusual and countercultural. At least we are invited into that – I think it is just as astounding today as it was then to take the posture of Mary and say, ‘Let it be as you have said’, and let the Spirit have it’s way with us. One aspect that makes the Jesus way so countercultural is that it is concerned with the inner life of a person without regard for the outer circumstances. It seems to me that it is a rare thing in our society to find people who have the time or inclination to really see and care about a person’s heart without their external appearance or situation getting in the way. This is a huge challenge for me.
As we are making connections with family and friends this holiday, slow down enough to listen to a person’s heart, particularly if they are someone who you find it hard to be around. What would happen in our more challenging relationships if we could cut through the external habits and mannerisms that put us off or frustrate us and pay attention to what is happening inside? What if we let the Spirit have it’s way with us?
Love yourself, love others, love God.