Human Broken Church


Advent is a good time to be human.

This is a gritty, earthy time. Born out of the tradition of Lent, Advent is a season of dust and ashes, of humanness, of bodily incarnation.

Sometimes I think Mary, who would have been now eight months pregnant — tired and swollen, overwhelmed by her duty of bearing so much divinity and humanity all at once.

At this point, she was still carrying all of that inside her. She was waiting for this birth, and now we wait for it, too.

And when this birth comes, it is not sterile or easy. It is impromptu and uncomfortable. This peasant couple, far from home, welcoming a miracle into their family, into the world.

I think of Mary, leaning against her midwife, muscles clenched and brow sweaty, leaning into the possibility of new life. Glorious. Perfect.

These are the universal experiences of humanity: birth and death. And here we are, centuries later, celebrating them over and over.


Because it is a good time to be human,

because being human means being built of the dust of the earth, breathed with the life-breath of God,

because we are waiting for this perfectly imperfect birth again and again…

Because of these things, Advent is a good time to be broken.

This same body that is born will be broken, like bread, will bleed, like wine, and will die. This body is like ours: dust.

And we will celebrate this body’s death, over and over, like we celebrate its birth.

We will bow before the mystery that divinity, too, could look like this. That grace could come as this child and move as this man and die as this savior. That the story goes on, far beyond that death.


When that body is dead (but only in one sense), the story will spread and grow, and lives will be pulled toward it, will be pulled into it, will be changed by it.

We will call them, too, body. They will be also human, also broken, also glorious.

They will long to speak the words that Jesus spoke, to live the love that Jesus lived, but sometimes they will fall short.

This, too, is universal: heartbreak.

The seeds of forgiveness must be planted deep and tended well enough to grow into fruit. This body must be gentle with itself, welcoming all its parts into the whole, lest one is forgotten and lost.

Advent is the re-beginning. Here we can start again, fresh as newborns, expectant as mothers. We can lean into the possibility of new life — our new life.

We can welcome God to come walk among us, to show us how to live in this body.

Advent is a good time to be human, a good time to be broken, a good time to be the church.

So let us wait for the Word together one more time.

– – –

Folks are sharing stories of redemptive brokenness over at Prodigal Magazine for the Broken Hallelujah link-up. Please take some time to go visit…


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Filed under Advent 2012, Liturgy

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