Mary is roughly 39 weeks pregnant.
Her body is heavy and sluggish and so, so tired. She is hungry, then queasy. Her abdomen is sore. Her gait is wide and shuffling. Her feet are swollen. She is ready for this baby to be out! But there is just a bit more waiting to be done and a lot of work. There is a journey on a donkey, a fruitless search for shelter, the making suitable of a stable, the labor, the birth.
The wide, wide world has been celebrating a frenzied pre-Christmas since late November. But even a jolly secular festival cannot erase the uncomfortably pregnant quality of Advent. The nesting and preparation borne of love leaves us sluggish and spent. We are weighed down and swollen with obligations and devotions and tasks. We are sick with the customary winter colds and flus, with worries about bills, with heartaches over families. “I’m so ready!” we pray. But there is still a little more waiting and a lot more work to be done. Journeys to be taken, homes to be made suitable, labor to undergo.
This pregnancy, this work and waiting, is a feature, not a bug. Advent is not meant to be holly-jolly. It is meant to push us to our limits and tire us, to expand our trust and patience, to swell our souls and minds and bodies until we cry out to God that we are SO ready for this Baby! It is ok to be impatient. It is okay to be uncomfortable. It is ok to be tired. You have not failed if you are still sick, still laboring, still anxious, still praying, still searching. It is not time yet.
Christmas is coming, and at midnight on that night He will pass into the world, finally, as ‘light through a glass.’ It is then, and only then, that the true relief and the true rest and the true celebration can begin.
There is still time to prepare our hearts. Jesus has not come, not just yet.