This reflection is the first in a four-part Advent series that will be posted each Wednesday on Living Lutheran.

Light one candle. Imagine that God is coming into the world. Christ comes to us in the simple form of a newborn baby – when he arrives everything will change.

Arise, shine; for your light has come (Isaiah 60:1).

We light one candle to indicate the coming of a new kind of light.

In this first week of Advent, we imagine Mary pregnant with a baby who will be the salvation of the world. Something important is happening. God is starting to show.

Advent is a time when we ask: How come God comes down? How come God gets small? How come God, the eternal, becomes human?

Jesus comes: not above us, but among us; not outside us, but in us; not robed in kingly crimson but in swaddling clothes in a lowly manger bed.

Our God is one that is very hard to understand in a world that sells tacky Christmas ornaments for profit and is deeply concerned about whether the stores will sell a lot during the gift-buying season.

The Christmas story is a quiet subversion of our “normal” vision of God. The spirit becomes flesh to dwell among us. At its core is vulnerability. At its core is love.

Send in the light, O God. Help us see what you are starting to show us.


Donna Schaper
Donna Schaper is senior minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City.

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