Transformation, not transaction – Advent Reflections part 4

photo credit: Shane Albuquerque @

from Rev. Dr. Heather H. Lear, Vice President for Grant Administration

No one expected the Messiah to be born in a stable to an unwed couple from Nazareth. They couldn’t have predicted he would be raised as the son of a carpenter and spend his 3-year ministry teaching and living in a way that turned social orders and worldly logic upside down. He refused to give answers that fit snugly into the expectations of the day.

St. Therese of Lisieux, nicknamed “The Little Flower,” is known for the profound impact she made in her short life (she died at age 24). One of her lesser known but important sayings is, “God knows all the sciences, but there’s one science God does not know, God does not know mathematics. God knows nothing about mathematics.” So why are we so tempted to tally, count, compare and produce?

Jesus isn’t concerned with blessing our tallies. He pushes back when people try to get him to affirm their math, easy formulas, or that life always adds up and the scales always balance. Time and time again Jesus flips the script and elevates presence, love, wholeness, and true belonging over traditions, expectations, and the hierarchy of the day.

We worship a God who isn’t interested in transactions, but rather transformation. A God who understands our struggles and suffering, loves us deeply, and names and claims us as God’s own.

The past two years have been hard. What are your hopes for encountering God this Christmas? What will help facilitate this experience for you and those you love?

Are there things you can let go of that diminish your peace and joy, maybe just for this year? Maybe from this year on?