Today is the fourth in a December and January series on Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Following Sarah Arthur‘s new book, Light Upon Light (which I can’t recommend highly enough), this fourth week looks at Advent as a whole, with the original post appearing on the Redbud Writers Guild website. You can find week one, week two and week three here. Check back each Saturday to see what’s new, and in the meantime, enter in and enjoy!
We play a mean game of hide-and-go-seek in our house.
The rules of it are generally governed by our two-and-a-half year old, and go something like this:
Canon [our son] directs Dada or Mama to sit on the couch and “Count!” He then runs five feet to the right and hides behind the faded and ill-hanging living room curtains. Between breathless giggles, he manages to squeak out, “I hide! I hide!” Meanwhile, my husband and I begin to muse aloud as to where the little bugger might be hiding.
“Where is Canon? Is he underneath the dining room table?” Giggle, giggle, giggle.
“Where’s Cancan? Is he …hiding behind the couch? Did he crawl up on top of the refrigerator? I just can’t find him!” Giggle, giggle!
After a round or two of naming nearly every inanimate object in the house, one of us – the hider or the seeker, that is – gives up. The wiggling curtain is traded in for one tackle of a bear hug, along with the opportunity to play the game all over again. Even though we’ve known where he is all along, we continue to join in to his delight of being found.
So we squeal along with him. Our collective bellies ache with the joy of discovery – for he, the object of our affection, has been found.
I suppose the parallel is obvious: we too have been found.
In the season of Advent, we celebrate finally knowing the answer to the first God-question ever posed, to Eden’s great game of hide-and-go-seek. Perhaps I’d heard the connection a thousand times before, perhaps I hadn’t; regardless, when our pastor pointed it out this weekend, I nodded my head emphatically, bouncing Baby Boy against my chest as I stood in the back of the musty, candle-lit sanctuary.
Like a parent who knows his son’s not-so-secret hiding location, God called out to his friends in the garden that day. Although the text doesn’t say it, I think there must have been a pause somewhere between the question and the response. Perhaps in the stillness there existed the audible sound of a gulp or the heave of a sigh or the hiccup of a cry – you know, the universal indication for females everywhere that Ugly Cry is about to commence. For in Perfection that day, blame and excuses and a jumble of dialogue followed, although for our purposes, they too are beside the point.
Instead, the main point is this: we humans received an answer to the first question God ever asked.
Where are you?
Pause. Stillness. Gulp. Sigh. Hiccup.
But then the answer comes: I am here.
I am here in the form of a tiny baby.
I am here through the virgin’s birth, for I, Emmanuel, am God with you.
I’ve found you and I join in to this life with you – and I delight in this journey of you finding me, over and over and over again.
But first and always first, I find you. And it’s in this dance of being found and finding him – of the back and forth, and forth and back – that we celebrate the Christmas season. We enter into the sacred, into the holy, into the beauty of relationship found with the God who became one of us.
Might it be so, I say.
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,” which means, “God with us.” So, what is Advent to you? Might you continue to celebrate wholeheartedly this season.0