Advent: When God Shows Up
I love Advent. It is all about expectancy that God is near.
Typical for the church calendar, for the big days (i.e. Christmas and Easter) there is some build-up. We look back to when God came near–a baby born right in the midst of the stuff of life. We also look forward with expectancy of his return when all things will be made new, when God dwells with humanity fully—on earth as it is in heaven.
But while we are looking back and looking forward, let’s take a look at right now: God with us in the everyday stuff of our lives.
Over Advent I’m going to post periodically looking at ways God came near in Jesus’ birth and what that tells us about ways he comes near to us now. Crack open your Bible and read along with me. What marked God showing us he was near in Jesus’ birth? What does it look like when God is with you?
First, there were a lot of routine/expected things happening in and around Jesus’ birth. It was ‘normal’ life in so many ways, at least for people living under Roman occupation: poverty/disparity of wealth, unjust taxation, control through the threat of violence, commodification of people through a census, the Jewish expectation of a messiah king who would deliver them alongside the daily disappointment of God’s promises unfulfilled. There was the ‘normal’ of having to sort out the logistics of food and shelter while traveling, pregnancies taking the usual time to reach full term, the expected reactions to things which broke the social customs/norms of the day (pregnancies out of wedlock, what to name a child, etc). Sure we know something new is happening and there are all kinds of signs of it, but all in the midst of the very old, familiar, routine and normal processes of life.
How do you see and experience God ‘showing up’ as near, with you in the routine, normal processes of life? In what ways, where, when, with whom?
Here are three practical ways to explore this:
1) Take some time to think about it, pay attention and dialogue with God about this question.
2) Go through your day today with expectancy that you will see and meet with God in very normal, routine activities and see what happens.
3) What are the routine ways you intentionally interact with God, ways you expect he will ‘show up’? Fill in the blank: “I consistently experience God when I ______________ (do what?, with/through whom?, where?, how?). Or I expect or wouldn’t be surprised if I saw, heard, interacted with God when I ____________(do what, with whom, where)” Go to those places, people, things, activities this Advent and spent some time with Immanuel: God with you.