“[Christ] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:7.
Advent is a beautiful season of simplicity and waiting, a time to prepare our hearts. Every year, Advent has to compete with noisy Christmas parties, stressful last minute shopping trips and all the seasonal trimmings – and it usually loses out. But not this year.
This year many of our diaries look very different to normal, with a few blank spaces that would usually have been filled with carol concerts and family visits. Just like the stable 2000 years ago, these spaces are open and inviting, waiting to be inhabited by God.
However, it won’t be that easy – we have to be intentional. Dazzling headlights are still rushing to get home, neon shop signs and glitzy window displays compete harder than ever for our contactless attention, and frantic illuminations will continue to strobe all night – right outside wide-eyed children’s bedrooms. The relentless Christmas glare is exhausting, but more than that, it draws our focus downwards to consumerism at the time of year when we should be looking upwards at the beautiful night sky, waiting for Jesus, the morning star (Revelation 2:28).
So, this advent let’s take a moment to look up at the stars, and resize ourselves to the huge dark expanse. Let’s stare up in amazement and get lost in wonder at the truth that the star-breathing God chose to ‘make himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.’ (Philippians 2:7). Breathtaking.
When you’ve looked up for a while, look down in wonder at the contrast beneath your feet; at the tiny nocturnal universe of microhabitats all around you. Look in the leaf litter for the surprising number of insects that brave the cold, keep an eye out for the handful of UK native moths that are still active in winter, listen for male Tawny owls ‘twoooing’, females ‘twitting’, and the eerie sound of a fox’s screaming bark.
In Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben explains that “There are more life forms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet.” In a season of ridiculous excess and terrible waste, that is an important message for us to hear. With this understanding, even the soil becomes a precious handful of God’s abundant joy, a thriving community where everything is recycled and a gift for us to explore, enjoy and care for. The sticky buds on trees too: they can remind us that whilst the leaves have all gone and spring still feels a long way off, the tree is very much alive, just waiting, waiting, for hope.
During this time of remembering that ‘the true light that gives light to everyone [was] coming into the world’ (John 1:9), can we lift our eyes from the screen to the stars? Can we unplug the lights and plug into the simple beauty of creation instead?
From the stars to the soil – including everything and everyone in between – let’s celebrate the gift of God’s creation and rediscover hope this season.
This reflection was written by Chad Chadwick for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and celebration.’ Chad is the Youth Mission Enabler for the Diocese of Peterborough. He is also a regular A Rocha UK Supporter and is currently training for ordination at St. Mellitus (London)
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Cover Image: Jordan Allen @astro_jord