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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Celebrate Advent: Make room for forgiveness. (Matthew 1:18-25)

She undresses. Fears and insecurities, slowly and carefully unbuttoned.  Wrinkled pretense, stripped and heaped at her feet. And when she finally stands before us, crowded room of practical strangers, she is soul-naked and exposed, and we, the voyeurs, we stare.

She whispers quiet the bedroom conversations and tortured inner dialogues. She opens doors to her interior spaces. It's the of space you don't keep neat for guests.

She risks, divulging the bloody guts of what it really means to live wrecked. 

And we hold out our hands to receive her fragile and holy confessions.

And breathe relief.

She is like us.

We are wrecked, too.

* * * * *

There's a word for this wrecked state of the human soul. It's called sin.

And Advent, if nothing else, is this and most simply this: a season to celebrate a Savior. God-Man, Jesus, stepping into human skin and bearing all its porousness, hero for the wrecked.

"Neither the language of medicine nor of law is adequate substitute for the language of [sin]. Contrary to the medical model, we are not entirely at the mercy of our maladies. The choice is to enter into the process of repentance. Contrary to the legal model, the essence of sin is not [primarily] the violation of laws but a wrecked relationship with God, one another and the whole created order. 'All sins are attempts to fill voids,' wrote Simone Weil. Because we cannot stand the God-shaped hole inside of us, we try stuffing it full of all sorts of things, but only God may fill [it]." - Barbara Brown Taylor

To admit I'm a sinner is surrender the pretense and lay down the excuse-making.

To embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ is to admit the dead-ends of my resolutions. I keep none of my promises. I'm the repeat offender. I am hopelessly criminal in what I do and intend and neglect.

For the wrecked, forgiveness is the fantastic news of Advent.