I don’t really remember, but I assume I was an utter wreck.
My dad had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and I had dropped out of a college degree program I loved only a month after starting so I could be at home with my family. I remember feeling lost, like no one around me could possibly understand what I was experiencing. I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I’m sure I leaned quite a bit under that weight no matter where I was or what I was doing.
She and I, we would go to the gym under the pretense of “working out,” but then we would sit in the hot tub and talk for hours on end. She loved me well, even when I was at my worst. She knew I really just needed her to be WITH me, to sit beside me and try to understand that massive burden I was carrying on my back.
We don’t really want community. Sure, we say we do. We want the weekly dinners and laughter. We don’t want the brokenness or mess, though. Because true community means sitting through tears and agony and CHOOSING to carry that weight too. True community means financial and emotional risk. True community means no guarantees, other than that your heart will hurt at some point. True community is often inconvenient and always revealing of your deepest self. We don’t really want that kind of community.
At the risk of sounding “political,” I honestly believe this is at the root of why we erect walls. This is why we are oftentimes more comfortable dropping money in the collection plate than we are sitting down beside that stranger on the street asking for money. This is why we plug in our earbuds on the plane instead of engaging the person sitting next to us. This is why we drive into our garages at the end of the day and close our doors to the world outside. We say we want community, but we don’t. We need it though.
At the heart of Advent is this deep, guttural cry of longing for a Savior who would love us enough to risk the mess of being WITH us. This God-man, Jesus, will always capture my heart and attention because of this mysterious, beautiful manifestation of divine love: Incarnation…the Word made flesh.
Jesus put on a skin-suit heavy with the burden and brokenness of humanity.
He allowed himself to be inconvenienced by the unimportant.
He touched those who posed great risk to his health.
He cradled the annoying and called them precious.
He defended the weak, those who had no capability of repaying him.
He chose as his companions the dirty, unpopular, convicted, irreligious, obnoxious, despised.
He not only believed in true community, he embodied it. The messy kind, the kind that demands a life. And I believe he invites us into the same.
He invites us to be inconvenienced by the unimportant.
He invites us to touch those who pose great risk to our health.
He invites us to bring the annoying closer and mine their preciousness.
He invites us to advocate for the weak and those who will never be able to repay us.
He invites us to choose our companions among the dirty, unpopular, convicted, irreligious, obnoxious, and despised.
He invites us into true community, because he knows that ultimately, it is we who need to be saved and transformed. I am the one who needs to be rescued…Rescued from misplaced priorities. Saved from my own selfishness and pride. Liberated from fear of the unknown and misunderstood. I desperately need a Savior, and he resides with and inside those I so often avoid.
We don’t want true community, but oh do we so desperately need it. Thankfully, we have a Savior who took on flesh and moved into the neighborhood…a Savior who longs to be with us even at our worst, and invites us to do the same for each other.