There is a Christian tradition about the spot where Jesus was born. There is a church in Bethlehem that was built over the very spot where Jesus was said to have laid in a manger. It is considered so holy that three different Christian traditions, Catholic and Orthodox, have laid claim to it for centuries and now they all have monks that live there and there is sort of an uneasy truce. The monks still to this day sometimes even have fist fights over the space, including one last year just after Christmas.
Now, I don’t think that’s what Jesus wants for the place he was born. I’m not even sure if that’s the exact place he was born or not, or if it even matters. But what I am sure of is that we want to remember that place where Christ was first born. We remember it enough to want to know exactly where it was, and to keep that place as holy ground.
But as holy as we consider Bethlehem I wonder if our understanding holy ground has to be limited to the places we find in the Bible?
There are some holy ground spaces in my own life. One of them is Herring Cove in Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod. Whenever I go there, no matter what anxieties or worries I might be wrestling with, I can feel God’s presence in a special way. Especially when it’s deserted, I look out at the water, and watch the waves, and know that God is close.
I’m not sure if it’s the space that makes it holy, or what I’m able to find there, but whatever it is, it works for me. It’s as holy as any place I know.
Advent is as good a time as ever to remind ourselves of the places where we feel the closest to God’s love. Maybe they are churches. Maybe they are beaches. Maybe they are mountains. Where ever they are, they are holy, because God is already there.
If we who are waiting for Christ treated every space as hallowed ground, how would the world look different? What fights would we stop having? What peace could we share with others? And how often could we remind ourselves that no matter where we go, we are still in God’s presence?
May you meet God wherever you go this Advent. Rest assured, God is already there waiting for you.