“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him…” – Mt. 1:24

With Christmas drawing near, I have found myself trying to grasp the meaning of Jesus’ birth now. I know that soon my nieces and nephews will sing “Happy Birthday” on Christmas and we will eat a cake that says “Happy Birthday Jesus”. It stirs in me the question – how as an adult do I understand and celebrate Christmas as more than a celebration of a special person’s birthday? How do I grasp the meaning of this feast and how do I carry it into my own life?

If I’m being honest, Lent/Easter is a season that I can much more easily relate to. I thrive on the discipline required to go into the desert and can easily find areas in my own life where I am invited to suffer, die, and rise. But during the season of Advent/Christmas, sometimes I struggle to “joyfully wait.” What exactly is it that I am waiting for? And after Christmas has arrived, all the presents have been opened, and family and friends are gone… what then?

A recent reflection by Richard Rohr caught my attention. In it he explains, “The celebration of Christmas is not a sentimental waiting for a baby to be born, but much more an asking for history to be born. The Christ we are asking for and waiting for includes your own full birth and the further birth of history and creation.”

Perhaps Christmas is a celebration of foundational love – God’s love coming into this world, into our lives, and the continued birth of God’s love in, through, and with us. Could we celebrate God’s love now by recognizing and responding to this love that is being reborn every day with every connection, opportunity, and challenge placed before us? That perhaps our full birth and the further birth of history requires us, the Body of Christ, to participate by responding and embodying this love.

Sometimes I get the sense that Mary’s “yes” takes all the attention in the history of Jesus’ birth. But today’s reading stirred in me that Joseph’s “yes” was just as important as Mary’s. He too needed to respond and say yes to God’s invitation for history to be created. Could it be that my own yes, and your own yes are equally as important? Could my “yes” be something as simple as living with greater small acts of intention? Perhaps I could connect more with a co-worker who seems run down, share more of how I’m really doing with my parents, or push away distraction and find the strength to sit with life after all the festivities have passed. Could these be the places where love resides, where I am born again, where God’s light and love break through? In this last week of Advent, may we open ourselves up to God’s invitations to be more fully born and say yes to him. May we joyfully await the birth of history.

What would it mean for you to be “fully born?” What areas of your life is God inviting you to say yes to him, to foundational love?

Joan Ervin