by Annika Reynolds
As I near the end of every college semester, I always wind up thinking to myself that it’s been the busiest semester I’ve ever had. Maybe you do, too. Energy has been high as we’ve finally been able to experience “normal” college life again. This excitement has been life-giving in so many ways, but as I’ve battled new dimensions of busyness this semester, I’ve thought about what it means to be “caught up” in the busyness of life. We throw that phrase around often, whether it’s in a context like “I am just too caught up in my assignments,” or “I don’t want to be caught up in [insert any mess or drama you’re trying to avoid],” or any number of other settings. But while we are trying to come to grips with our own overcrowded schedules, God is doing quite the opposite. In fact, the act of the incarnation shows us that simply because of his abundantly gracious and unconditionally loving nature, God wraps himself up in a world brimming with busyness and caught-up-ness. God chooses to be caught up in our world. What if we chose to get caught up in his?
Advent is an invitation to do just that: to get caught up in God’s world because God got caught up in ours. The incarnation is the great act of God not only becoming one of us, but endearing himself to all of our sorrows and taking upon himself all of our sin. He came to earth to save us from our own caught-up-ness. It was into our own broken and sin-stained world that God chose to send his son that he might rescue us from the overwhelmingly stimulating, attention-seeking, and time-exhausting nature of our world. The poet W. H. Auden beautifully questions the mystery of the incarnation in his poem, “For the Time Being”: “How could the Eternal do a temporal act, the Infinite become a finite fact?” God invading our world means that he fused the temporal and the eternal, forming an unbreakable connection with a world entangled in busyness.
If God humbled himself to step into our world, what would it look like for us to forgo, for just a moment, our tendency to be absorbed in our world and instead contemplate the beauty of what it might mean for us to be present in God’s world? Advent prompts us toward this end – toward remembering that we live in a world that God transformed through the wonder of the incarnation. As Wendell Berry puts it, “we ourselves are living in the world [where] it happened” (“It Happened Once”). God didn’t go to another world or another people. He came to us – to you and me. God’s invasion of our world invites us to reside in his, a world in which catching up means slowing down. So let’s slow down to get caught up with God because he delights in walking alongside us. Through his birth, Jesus teaches us exactly how to be wrapped up in the act of slowing down. God paves this path for us through his Son and he “guides our feet in the way of peace” (Luke 1:79). And when we’re caught up in God’s world, “of peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:7).
Annika Reynolds is a fourth year at UVA studying Art History and Classics.
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