I was reading a devotional this morning. Guided towards thinking of Advent, it began heavily and toiled on, admonishing me that we mere mortals are not worthy of the regard the Almighty has for us. I put down the book feeling disheartened and discouraged. I'm not worthy, I know that. Why am I reading something that makes the point in such lofty and condescending language? Isn't Advent about preparing and well, celebrating the coming of Jesus once again?
I understand that we bunch of humans congratulate ourselves entirely too much for things we didn't even do! And we probably need to be taken down a notch or two occasionally so we don't think we don't need God (or anyone else for that matter). But I'm sorry, Advent reminds me again and again that God loves us no matter how unlovable we are. How undeserving we are of that love, God loves us. And I want to be reminded of that not smacked on the wrist and told how wrong-headed I am. Because I am...wrong-headed. And selfish and too concerned about my own comforts to think about someone else's discomforts. But I'm not ONLY those things. And lest I suddenly start to enumerate my "worthiness" I'm not working out justifying my existence at this particular writing. But I am noting something.
If Advent is to mean anything to anyone, it must mean hope. It must mean that God found something in us worthy of redemption. Something to care about. Something to love. We are not hopeless masses of hysteria and self interest. Or at least not all the time. We are made up of hundreds of conflicting desires and thoughts. Sometimes even from one minute to the next. Martin Luther tells us we are all saints and sinners simultaneously. Not separate and apart from who we are in the pews on Sunday morning or even the bible study on Wednesday nights.
And that is the Advent for which I am celebrating and decorating the house. The fact that God is with me all the time, not abandoning me in the time of trouble, or even if I'm the trouble! God is with me--Emmanuel--not because I'm wringing my hands and wearing sackcloth and ashes (not a good look for me for sure!), but because I am loved with the boundless grace the Almighty has to offer. No, I do not deserve it, but yes, I will embrace it and hold it dear to me through these long winter nights. And so, I hope to read some more enlightening Advent devotions in the next few days. But if not, then well, I'll make up my own.