Advent is a time to pause and be reminded of the blessings that the birth of Christ means for us. But, to be honest, the world does not slow down at this time of year. It speeds up with a million things to do: gifts to buy, parties to attend, baking to get done, houses to decorate. I always end up feeling rushed and exhausted. All my well-intended plans to slow down and spend time with God get pushed to the side.
The stable reminds me that the same was true on the day Christ was born. The stable cannot be cleaned up. In it you will find the unprepared, the exhausted, the unwashed and the broken. Mary was amazed and afraid by the angel’s message, unmarried and just a girl. Joseph was startled and confused, contemplating quietly dismissing her to save them both shame. The shepherds were the religiously unwashed and outcast. The magi show up, a group of foreign non-believers, not even supposed to know about the coming of a Messiah. Here they gather amid the fodder and droppings left by the animals. Hardly adequate preparations for the divine birth.
And yet, nothing is impossible with God. Though unprepared each person gathered played their part perfectly. Mary, blessed among women, brings forth light for the world. Joseph, a saint among men, protects and cares for his wife and the holy child. The shepherds worship with full hearts. And the magi come with open hearts and minds and are transformed by the event.
This Advent may we do as they did that Christmas morning – simply present ourselves with all our worries, fears, anxieties, cares and complaints. Kneel quietly by the manger and worship. God is calling us to the stable as we are. Nothing is lacking. Let us go with open hearts, and prepare to be transformed.