As I got ready to go to church this morning, I heard a statement that bothered me. While not talking about the birth of Christ, someone said, “If you come down…” My first reaction was one of anger. “What do you mean ‘if you come down?’” Our season of Advent is one of preparation as we expect the coming of the Messiah. Perhaps the phrase should read, “When you come down…” The use of the word ‘if’ implies a sense of skepticism that does not ring well in my ears. Christ does come down and lives among us.
Loaded with fire in my belly, I did what I should do in the first place, and I prayed for guidance. I realized that there is another way to interpret the “If you come down” statement. What if the author used “if” as a gesture of respect and humility? In this case, the tiny two-letter word implies our lack of worthiness, therefore making the gift of God’s presence even more remarkable and bolder. In other words, God saw the “if” and moved to action. The Holy One erased all questions. The Divine came down to us, in our humblest posture, to bring us the gift of grace.
The second interpretation of the phrase in question reinforces a penitent heart and not one of doubt or confusion. I hear a prayer that beings in this fashion, “Oh Lord, my God, I know that I am not worthy to receive you, but if you choose to come to me, fill me with a renewed spirit so that I may fully worship you.” This posture represents the hope of Advent. God chose to come to us by giving us His Son, God with us!