Black Hole, part 5
The beginning of a new church calendar year. Advent. Jesus is coming…first in the form of an infant, fully dependent upon Mary and Joseph for everything. Hard to imagine Redeemer God as a newborn.
For the first Sunday of Advent, my husband and I attended the Episcopal church down the street from our place because it is beautiful, and an encounter with the theological Other (though, moreso for me). The incense is a bit much, but I appreciate how the gospel reading always takes place in the center of the congregation. I enjoy hearing the homily given by a young woman who sits five rows back. I delight in how the theology is sung throughout the service, even as I scramble to get to the right page before the verse ends. I am fascinated by the strangeness and wonder of it all…
Just before the Eucharist is served, all the kids who had been in their classrooms came clamoring upstairs to join their parents for the remainder of the service. While parents were often distracted by the wiggling bodies in the pews, and missed some of the genuflects and crossing of the hands, I was nonetheless a little envious as they brought their kids up to the altar to receive Christ in the bread and wine. Advent is my favorite season, yet in recent years it has taken on a dissonance as I wait and wonder if a child will ever come to my husband and I. Expectancy is not something I have embodied. Yet the church is called to anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ every week of every year. So, how can we learn from the mothers in our midst–especially when, socially, we don’t like talking about this sort of thing? Frankly, the last thing I personally would want to do right now is sit down with someone who has been pregnant and given birth, and hash out all the gory details. But what does it mean to be expectant for a period of time? To watch as change occurs. To wait for the fulness of time to arrive.
I will be honest, though, I don’t like the way people talk about their pregnancies. It seems that writers either remain clinical in their observations, so that you cannot tell if they are preparing for a knee joint replacement or an infant; or the platitudes spew forth so voluminously that you are left drowning in Hallmark sparkle. Perhaps the experience is so profound it defies language. (More likely: I just haven’t read the many accounts written by talented women because I haven’t searched that deeply.) Then again, how would a woman write about an experience that can only be shared by a portion of society; particularly when our social values see months of pregnancy as a health care liability?
I want to know what it’s like to be physically suspended in a state of expectation. In fact, I desperately long for this feeling. My sense is that the church today needs it, too. We need to be reminded this Advent of what it feels like to expect new life.
. . . . . .
Before we know him as teacher, Mary knew him as a child. Before we know him as healer, Mary knew him as needy. Before we exalt him as Savior, Mary knew him as flesh from her flesh.
Christ has died,
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again.