We hope you enjoy our Advent thoughts this month from our blog Igniting Hope. “Make Ready” will come to your inbox each Tuesday. If you’d like to continue receiving our Igniting Hope blog in January, update your preferences below; otherwise, you will just receive these through the Christmas season. Our hope is to encourage you and give you a chance to pause and reflect on Christ’s coming. Thanks so much for looking with us for his coming!

Make ready for the Christ

Whose smile

Like lightening,

Sets free the song of everlasting glory

That now sleeps

In your paper flesh

Like dynamite

–Thomas Merton

Jesus always invites us to come as we are to him. When we do, His smile, His loving gaze reaches in and touches our forgotten places, fearful places, tender places. And in that moment a song that we have known since before we were born is set free. It is the song of mystery, first of a God who inhabits flesh as a baby, and then, who inhabits us. “The first happened so the second could happen, but the second could not happen without the first.” (Evelyn Underhill)

Entering mystery is almost always befuddling. Evelyn Underhill puts these words to it:

Beholding His Glory is only half our job. In our souls too the mysteries must be brought forth; we are not really Christians till that has been done. “The Eternal Birth,” says [Meister] Eckhart, “must take place in you.” And another mystic says human nature is like a stable inhabited by the ox of passion and the ass of prejudice; animals which take up a lot of room and which I suppose most of us are feeding on the quiet. And it is there between them, pushing them out, that Christ must be born and in their very manger He must be laid—and they will be the first to fall on their knees before Him. Sometimes Christians seem far nearer to those animals than to Christ in His simple poverty, self-abandoned to God.


The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves: it is because His manifestation in the world must be through us. Every Christian is, as it were, part of the dust-laden air which shall radiate the glowing Epiphany of God, catch and reflect His golden Light. Ye are the light of the world—but only because you are enkindled, made radiant by the One Light of the World. And being kindled, we have got to get on with it, be useful. As Christ said in one of His ironical flashes, “Do not light a candle in order to stick it under the bed!” [Mark 4:21] . . .


When you don’t see any startling marks of your own religious condition or your usefulness to God, think of the Baby in the stable and the little Boy in the streets of Nazareth. The very life was there which was to change the whole history of the human race.

You are the light of the world – but only because you have been enkindled, made radiant by the One Light of the World.

I have this picture of us all coming like rag-tag children, disheveled, somber, wounded, yet hopeful and trusting…risking. He takes one look at us, smiles really big, then scoops us up, wipes the tears, cleans our faces, changes our clothes, puts food in our bellies and says, “Wanna have some fun with me? Let’s go find more kids!” And in all our newness we go back out with exuberance, eager to play hide and seek with Jesus. Finding all things hidden so they may be found.

This is the eternal song of glory set free…Let’s sing it together!

The Smile of Christ
Thin Like Paper