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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: community

Celebrate Advent: Make room for company.

jenmichel@me.com

The man in the overcoat sits by the door, buttoned up, motionless, until I pass with the tray of food. He catches my eye, nods ever so slightly, meaning for me to come closer. With his hand, that one gigantic paw, he grabs fistfuls of food. Mini hotdogs and gingerbread cookies disappear. Evaporate. My children watch wide-eyed. Once, after the nod, after the paw, he engages me in conversation. “What would you do?” he asks in a gravelly voice, describing bus drivers and handicapped kids and parents. The hypotheticals morph into tirades about Canadian politicians, none of whose names I recognize. It’s not making much sense to me in this crowded Christmas party at the Salvation Army.

"What would you do?” his eyes search mine. “Do you agree?”

“Yes,” I fumble, thinking his eyes mean for me to answer yes.

“Yes?”

“Well, not really,” I revise, having no idea what question it is I’m answering.

And then there’s the merciful tug at my sleeve. One of my children needs to find a bathroom. I excuse myself and mutter, “It’s been nice talking to you.”

* * * * *

Advent: it’s a time to keep company.

With Jesus Himself. With family and friends. With the poor.

The story of the Jesus comes to us in a web of relationships. Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, wise men and shepherds. The triune God speaks to us in relationship, in community.

Don't get too busy to keep company this week.

Lean in and listen well.

Forgive.

And live the unforced rhythms of intimacy.

Advent: it’s a time to keep company.

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

jenmichel@me.com

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.