Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Weakness was the Strength: First Friday of Advent

The Incarnation was God's 'weak moment': when Omnipotence becomes a baby in a manger has 'weakened' itself.... The precisely a temptation to evade the self-imposed weaknesses, to be strong, omnipotent, again - to make stones into bread, to be emperor of the world, to do 'levitations'. The weakness was the strength.
~ C.S. Lewis, Collected Letters III, p 409ff

It's not very often that you find yourself in the presence of a man or woman who is content with their weakness. Either you find someone embarrassed by their weakness, ashamed of it, seeking to hide it,  hoping no one talks about it, OR they use it as a crutch, they use it to get attention, they flaunt it. The writer and blogger Julia Clawson recently addressed this from a personal point of view - having been born with half her arm missing below her elbow. She doesn't want you to feel sorry for her, nor does she feel compelled to hide her elbow.

Jesus walking through the dusty alleys of Capernaum, having healed crowds of neighbors, was a walking paradox: God made himself weak by taking on human flesh - BUT Jesus was born strong being filled with the Spirit of God. Upon reflection, there would have been no strength for Jesus to offer had he not first embraced the weakness of Advent, of coming to the manger of Bethlehem. The self-imposed weakness by God in the flesh made possible the gift of strength to those that believed a new beginning was possible.

My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.
~ 2Corinthians 12v9 (NIV)

This is the story of Jesus, it's also the story of St. Paul, and it can be the story of you. For when you are weak, you are in need of grace. And it is when you are weak that you are in a position to receive grace. And it is these moments that allow you to become strong. This enables you to someday to be able to give grace when you are strong.

"For when I am weak, then I am strong." That's what Paul says, but that's not what we always think. When you apologize due to a weakness, you strengthen the bonds that tie you together. When you are vulnerable and thus feel weak, you strengthen the core of your relationship. When you lean on and rely on and accept help - which may cause you to see yourself as weak - you are strengthening the community of friendship around you.

So do you need to apologize to someone this Advent season? Is there a "I'm sorry" that ought to be coming from your mouth, from your heart? Or do you need to ask for help? Or do you need to give grace?

May you spend these holidays and Advent "weaks" considering that God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine... especially when we are weak. This is the story of the Incarnation, this is central to the true meaning of Christmas.

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