Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1: 1-7)
So many of us spend our time trying to “find” God, perhaps trying to get to the place where God is. We often forget that God is not sitting in some faraway place until we clean up our act or pray more or get more religious or figure it all out. (OK, THAT’S probably never going to happen.) God comes into the normalcy of our lives. God shows up on city streets and country lanes. God appears in places that we wouldn’t dare go ourselves. God does not limit the Divine to the places that are cleaned up and presentable. God comes not just to the places where we think we should be but the places where we spend our days and spend our hours, the times when we laugh and grieve and dance and walk and get all confused and discombobulated and feel like we’re all alone. The coming of God into our midst in this very chaotic and holy season reminds us of that. God did not sit in some far-off palace eating hors d’oeuvres until everyone caught up with the Divine. God came into the lowliest of cities and was born in the dirtiest of cribs and was held by the poorest of the poor who had been refused entrance to what most of us would count as normal.
The point is that God comes not to the ones who deserve God’s Presence, not to the ones that are really all that prepared, not to the ones that have done what they need to do, but to us. God comes to us. God comes into our lives just as they are and begins to walk, first taking our hand and guiding our steps until we can run on our own and help others along the way. God comes into the places where God is unrecognized and needed the most.
Once I baptized a baby who was eating a Ritz cracker. The mother was, of course, trying to calm the squirming child down enough to get some holy water on his head and hear the words that reminded us who he was and who we were. It worked. There, with Ritz cracker in hand, Hudson was reminded (or his parents were reminded) that he was a son of God with whom God is well pleased. And I’m thinking that if all that took was a Ritz cracker, then we ought to spend our whole journey with an open box in tow. We do not have to clean up our act before God comes. God is willing to come into the very messiness of our lives. If it takes a Ritz cracker to calm us down enough to receive it, then so be it. THIS Advent, THIS Christmas, in the moment that you are now, look up and know that God comes, with our without hors d’oeuvres.
God did not wait till the world was ready, till nations were at peace. God came when the Heavens were unsteady and prisoners cried out for release. God did not wait for the perfect time. God came when the need was deep and great. In the mystery of the Word made flesh the maker of the Stars was born. We cannot wait till the world is sane to raise our songs with joyful voice, or to share our grief, to touch our pain. God came with Love. Rejoice! Rejoice! And go into the Light of God. (From “First Coming”, by Madeleine L’Engle)
FOR TODAY: Pay attention to God’s coming. It’s happening now.
Grace and Peace,