When we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate incarnation; the story of Christ’s birth is the story of God taking on human flesh. Yet, Christmas is about more than a single moment lodged in human history; Christmas proclaims the reality of incarnation: that God is with us. Christmas is about recognizing how God is present in and among us and looking for ways in which God may be incarnated again in the world and in our lives. The late Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest and French paleontologist who took this theology of incarnation seriously as he explored the intersection of science and theology in the early 1900s. Teilhard believed that “there is no more substantial nourishment for the religious life than contact with scientific realities” and that the Christian doctrine of Incarnation represented the reality of radical unity between matter and spirit. He once said that “matter is spirit moving slowly enough to be seen,” and that “Christ, through his Incarnation, is interior to the world, rooted in the world even in the heart of the tiniest atom.”

Christmas crawls closer and is now just two days away. Can you feel the world growing quiet in anticipation for the calm and bright birth of Christ? What might you notice on the silent night in which the light of Christ humbly flickers? As we conclude Advent, I invite you to look for signs of the incarnation in places that parallel the places in which the first Christmas story took place.

Pay attention to the places that seem too humble to hold God’s presence: a barn, a feeding trough, a room that was not meant to be a room were the places in which the Christ child was born. How is God being incarnated in the humble places of our world?

Pay attention to those who are dismissed or ignored by those with worldly power. God chose Mary and Joseph, two young and faithful people living in an overlooked town, to bear the brilliance of raising the Christ child. Mary herself sang that with Jesus, God “has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly” and “has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52-53). How is God being incarnated in those rejected by our world’s systems of power and how is God present with and for those who only stand half a chance in our society?

God is with us and all around us, and every season of our life is pregnant with God’s promise of Christ with us and for us. How might this Christmas reveal to you a fresh way in which God is being incarnated in and through the world around us, birthing anew Christ’s peace, hope, joy, and love?