Why Are You Searching for Me?

Looking for God49He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2: 49)


This passage will come in a few weeks. I won’t go into it. But the question of “why were you searching for me?” begs a lot of additional questions. After all, in this season of Advent, for whom are we waiting? For whom are we searching? Why were you searching for me? Later, the adult Jesus invites us to come and see. It’s not necessarily a fulfillment of that or whom for which we are searching. It is an invitation to come and see what is there, come and see what is offered, come and see what you were not expecting.


For generations, God’s people waited for the Messiah. They waited for a Savior. What is that? What is that which saves you? Who is that above all others who gives you what you need? And they imagined a king, a monarch, one who was the leader of the world. They imagined one who would lead them to victory. They imagined one who would land them on top of the heap of the world. And then they got this baby in a manger. What is that about? This wasn’t what we planned.


Are we really any different? What is that that you imagine will save you? Who is that who above all others gives you what you need? Who do you imagine? For whom are you waiting? Maybe the whole point is that we, like those generations so long ago, are so sure of who the Messiah is that we miss the Messiah, we miss the Presence of God that shows up in places that we did not think it belonged. The question, “why were you searching for me?” remains. Is it to save you? Is it to fix your life? Is it to affirm that the life you’ve created is the way it should be? Is it to land you on top of the heap of the world? Or are you truly searching for that which brings Truth and Grace? Are we searching for One who will enter our life? Or are we searching for a Life that will lead us to God?


The baby in a manger wasn’t what anyone was expecting. Who would’ve imagined that God would enter this world through a feed trough? Maybe if we would open ourselves to the possibility, or even the probability, that God comes in ways we do not plan, in ways that we do not expect, and even through those that we do not think are “of God”, then we will be able to open ourselves to whatever way God comes. So, why are you searching for me? Don’t you know I’m here with you now, in every step, in every way? Don’t you know where I am? I am here. Just open yourselves to the notion that I’m not what you planned, that I don’t fit into to this world, and that I’m calling you to change your life and change your ways so that you will know who I am.


Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find. (Ann Patchett)


Grace and Peace,



Lowering Our Expectations

Shoes of PovertyScripture Text:  Matthew 1:18b-21

When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”


Can you imagine Joseph’s surprise?  Good grief, what was God doing while I was busy making plans for God to come?  For generations, my people have been looking for a Savior, planning for that moment, when the King would enter triumphantly.  What were we expecting?  Well, of course, we were expecting someone obvious, someone  who would make himself known in the world, someone who is a little bit better than you or I.  We were expecting power and might and grandiose presentation.  But instead God walked into our very human existence.  God traversed time and space and the perceived separation between the sacred and the ordinary and entered our everyday world.  On some level, that bothers many of us.  After all, we are trying to do BETTER than this; we are aspiring to be more than human.  What in the world is God doing messing around in the muck of this world?


Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said that “by virtue of the creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.”  So, perhaps God came into this very ordinary world to show us the holiness that has been created, the sacredness that in our worldliness, we were somehow missing.  Perhaps God steps into our lives to show us the depth that we haven’t dared to dig into our lives.  Perhaps God came and walked with us not to show us how to be but to show us how to see.  But when it’s all said and done, this practice we have of “looking for God” has been proven bizarre.  After all, it was never God that was lost!  We were never separated from the sacred; we just missed seeing it because it wasn’t what we were expecting.  So, again, what were we expecting?  Maybe the the whole lesson is that God will come when and where and in the way that God will come.  But if there’s a “pattern” to be figured out about this God who cannot be figured out, it’s that God comes into the unexpected, into the unplanned, and into the unprepared places in our lives and lays down in a feed trough and patiently waits for the world to wake up and notice.


While we were busy looking up, with grand plans for “our Savior”, the God who was on “our side”, God slipped in to the bowels of the world and promised redemption for not just those who were busily looking for God, but the whole world.  The whole world?  The WHOLE world, all of Creation, all of existence.  Maybe the reason that God started where God started was that the rest of us were looking beyond where we should be looking, busily looking for someone to complete what we had started, to validate that what we were doing was right, to raise us up beyond the muck of the world.  But God, even at this moment, descends into places we would rather shake away.  While we were busy looking up, searching for the star in the sky, God descended into humanity.


Maybe we were trying to be something we were not.  Maybe we were overreaching a bit.  But God, God comes into our world not to validate us, not to complete us, but to re-create us.  God is good at starting us over, making us new, giving us eyes to see what we have been missing all along.  This human God, this God who laid down in a feed trough, this God who loves everyone humbles us at best.  Who are we that we have such lofty expectations as to think that we are beyond loving someone like us?  Who are we that we missed the holiness in front of us, the sacredness within us, the piece of the Divine that walks beside us even when we don’t notice?  Who are we that we thought ourselves capable of “finding God” without first looking for the God who is always with us, Emmanuel?  Who are we that we thought God would come in the way we expected rather than the way that we needed for Life?  Who are we that we missed our Life?  Who are we that we missed our God?  Maybe we should lower our expectations to a feed trough on the outskirts of power and strength and achievement.  Because there, not only will we find God, but the “we” that we were all along.


In this final week of Advent (WHAT?!?  THERE’S ONLY A WEEK?) , we are all busy preparing for the day of God’s coming.  But whether or not we get it done, whether or not the house is clean or the goodies are baked or the presents are wrapped, God will come and the world will never be the same.  Expectation is about moving into what will be rather than preparing for what we expect.


What wondrous Love is this, O my soul, O my soul, what wondrous love is this, O my soul!  What wondrous Love is this that caused the Lord of life to lay aside his crown for my soul, for my soul, to lay aside his crown for my soul. (USA Folk Hymn)


FOR TODAY:  Lower your expectations.  Look at your life.  Look at your self.  See the God who walks with you in the holiness of days.


Grace and Peace,