Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a Son; they will name Him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”). (Matthew 1.23; The Message)
It’s rather odd that our ancestors settled on late autumn-early winter as the time to enter Advent’s contemplation and celebrate Jesus’s birth. With Advent’s emphasis on expectancy and Christmas’s joyful delivery of the Christ Child, late spring and early summer would seem more appropriate. (Christians who live in the Southern Hemisphere are fortunate to experience this seasonal alignment. And the only clue we’re given in Scripture about the Nativity’s time of year suggests a late spring-early summer arrival. Luke’s mention of shepherds pasturing their flocks indicates green fields; if it were early winter, the sheep would be housed in stables and fed hay.)
Advent is, above all else, a gestation period. It invites us to identify with Mary, who realizes the most amazing event humanity will ever experience is taking shape inside her. We believe the same. Something incredible is taking shape inside us. While our impatience to see what it is—to touch it and hold it in our arms—is nearly unbearable, we know we must give it time. The spring-like Promise will mature and be born into radiant Life. We will call the Living Christ we carry in vitro through Advent’s pregnancy “Immanuel”—“God is with us.”
In The Tentmaker, Michelle Blake writes:
One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along, that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home.
God’s promise to be with us is daily fulfilled by God’s presence within us. The thing we most hope for is already coming to fruition. Like expectant parents, we take time to watch it grow, to sense its movement, to prepare ourselves to welcome it into the home we make for it in our souls. The weather outside may be dark and cold and forbidding. But in our hearts, it is spring. The summer Son will soon dawn. And we will echo the prophet’s song: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60.1)