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With thanks to the Churches Advertising NetworkHallo again to all.

It has been the busiest Advent we can remember. (It always tends to be the busiest Advent we can remember, and we wonder if one of you gentle readers can advise us about the best way to reverse this trend.) On Monday, in between business meetings, we took an elderly friend for a pre-surgery chest x-ray. On Tuesday, we met a coworker's newborn daughter for the first time, delivering gifts and snapping photos in between feedings. On Wednesday, we fought transit delays to reach the office for a year-end marathon of widget-making. By Thursday, we were exhausted, but only exhausted enough to shovel heavy snow on Friday before another widget marathon. On Saturday, we mailed Christmas packages to friends near and far. And today—after church and coffee hour—we bought a Christmas tree, a 1.5 meter Fraser fir transported from Canada to an auto-repair lot where it fetched more than a month's wages for the famous 'average Anglican' who

is African
is a woman
is not yet 30
has three children
walks more than 3 km per day
lives on less than US$2 per day
is related to someone with HIV/AIDS

Tonight we write in the glow of our four Advent candles of different heights, with weeks of what ought to have been quiet, focussed spiritual preparation behind us. And we wonder where the Christ Child has been in the midst of any of this: our overloaded Advent, our happy acquiescence in economic structures that harm all those they reach in every direction, our membership in a Christian community where the average worshipper does not have a real face and heeded voice in the highest levels of leadership. There are several possible answers, but the truest one comes out to this: the Babe of Bethlehem is nowhere in any of this, but he is everywhere in all of this.

He is nowhere in this anxious Advent because we have failed to see him—failed to look for him, really—even when confronted with ample opportunity to do so at every corner. The infant's squeal in her freshly-painted room, a fellow commuter's ox-like snore, the shaggy ends of tired carpet in a radiologist's waiting room. All are invitations to go in our hearts to the stable-cave of Bethlehem to 'see this thing which is come to pass', these 'good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people', the joy-giving, bright-dappled truth of God who comes to live with us and for us.

Childbirth in a Roman-occupied backwater is how God decides—scandalously, dangerously, painfully and particularly—to meet us. And this is why God has been everywhere in all of this messy Advent at the end of a messy year. This deep, heavy, pain-drenched fact at the heart of our faith is that in Jesus Christ God is with, for, of, behind, among not just us, but particularly the weakest and poorest and least sparkly of us. He is born to give his wailing to those whose wailing is not heard. He is born to give salvation to those whom the world will not save. He is born to walk with those who must walk rather than ride. He is born to make rich beyond measure those who cannot spend for themselves. He is born as Light, light shining in darkness, light so powerful it cannot be eclipsed by any earthly power or even finally dimmed by our own worst laziness.

This is the good news, this news in today's antiphon and Old Testament readings of a morning star, a daystar from on high that will shine and dispel darkness of every kind. It is the good news we—all of us at AO—wish to share with you and yours this week and always.

May twelve light-filled days of Christmas joys be yours, dear Christian friends.

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Last updated: 21 December 2008

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