16 Dec Becoming the Gift
We are just a few days away from the winter solstice. Next Tuesday, December 21st, at 10:59 a.m. EST, the sun will reach its southernmost point in the sky for the year. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice marks the 24-hour period with the fewest daylight hours. That’s why it is often referred to as the shortest day of the year or conversely, as the longest night.
One of my favorite parts of the Advent season is waking up early while my small plot of the earth is still covered in darkness, turning on the Christmas tree lights, and sitting nearby with a cup of tea in the stillness and quiet of the morning. Soon enough, the lights and noise of the day will begin blaring, but for a little while, I have the blessed gift of solitude and silence.
Pastor and poet Ted Loder has a short, two-stanza poem that speaks to the goodness that can be birthed in silence:
A couple of things stand out to me about this poem. First, Dr. Loder names the expectancy that is meant to be part and parcel of Advent. The question is: what exactly are we expecting? Are we intentional about watching expectantly for how God shows up in our lives and in our world? Or, are we mostly trying to survive the season, and our greatest expectation is that it will, eventually, be over? Are we expectantly awaiting a new birth of soul, mind, body, or spirit? Or, are we stuck in a haze of disappointment, with ourselves and others, such that our expectations fail to reflect the hope of God’s presence with us?
“How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given.
I would be silent now, Lord, and expectant…
that I may receive the gift I need,
so I may become the gifts others need.”
The second thing that strikes me is Dr. Loder’s use of the plural of “gift” in the last line: “that I may become the gifts others need.” I hear such promise in that line. God has shared with us the greatest gift ever conceived or given—God’s very Self. And from that gift, all over gifts are derived. God’s own generosity explodes into our lives leaving gifts raining down on us like confetti at a parade: love, joy, peace, grace. Listening, sharing, giving, rejoicing. Compassion, mercy, faithfulness, kindness. Intelligence, beauty, creativity, relationships.
In this final week of Advent, I invite you to be attentive and expectant: expect that God wants to visit and dwell with you. Expect that God is birthing something new and holy in you. Expect that God delights in sharing God’s very life with you. Expect that in the darkness and silence, God is present, speaking, working, loving. Expect that God gives you all this, so that you can “become the gifts others need.”