Advent Eyes

Dear Friends,
In January of 2007, The Washington Post videotaped the reactions of commuters at a D.C. Metro (subway) stop to the music of a violinist. The overwhelming majority of the 1000+ commuters were too busy to stop. A few did, briefly, and some of those threw a couple of bills into the violin case of the street performer. No big deal, just an ordinary day on the Metro. Except it wasn’t an ordinary day. The violinist wasn’t just another street performer; he was Joshua Bell, one of the world’s finest concert violinists, playing his multi-million dollar Stradivarius. Three days earlier he had filled Boston’s Symphony Hall with people paying $100/seat to hear him play similar pieces. Watch the video here.
The question the Post author and many others since have asked is simple: Have we been trained to recognize beauty outside the contexts we expect to encounter beauty? Or, to put it another way, can we recognize great music anywhere outside of a concert hall? I’d ask a similar question of us in the church. Can we detect God only when God is surrounded by stained-glass windows and organ music?” What do you think? Can we detect God only when we’re in church? Do you think we have a vision problem? Is God still present, but unrecognized, in all sorts of places? It’s one thing to encounter God in church, or even in your home with your family. But do you also see God in the parking lot, in the grocery store, in the long check-out lines at the mall, in schools and offices, on the highway, by the side of the road, in the mundane and everyday events of life? How can you begin to see God in those places?
Is that kind of vision a skill? Is it something you can learn? Does anything change when you start seeing this way? Does it automatically make the world seem better, more peaceful or more joyful? Could it also bring injustice, inequality or isolation into sharper focus? How? This Advent, be intentional about seeing God in mundane or ordinary moments in your life. Take the time to talk with your family about where and how you see God during the day. You could even start a journal to remind you of all the ways God is present in your life.
This coming third Sunday of Advent we’ll take a closer look at the first chapter of John. John, begins his Gospel with a magnificent poem. The opening line of the poem goes like this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John is telling his readers that what they are about hear is a story of a new creation. As the poem continues John tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, referring to the birth of Jesus. It’s a stunning thing that John proclaims – that God came in the flesh to live among us! (The Incarnation)
But here’s the line of the poem I want to focus on, “God came into the very world that he had created, but the world didn’t recognize him.” Think about that. God came, the Creator of all things, the One that the Israelites had worshiped for a thousand years. But they didn’t recognize him.
John’s opening words tell us something about God and about us. God is present, right here and right now, but we often miss it. I repeat …God is present, right here and right now, but we often miss it. It’s interesting how often we miss what’s right in front of us. That’s why this season of Advent is such a gift.
Advent is an invitation to awaken to the reality of God-with-us. It reminds us that in Jesus God has come to dwell among us. Advent reminds us what has always been but we have not always had eyes to see. Advent is an invitation to open our eyes and see by faith what has always been – God-with-us. Advent is an invitation to Christ, the One in whom the promise was made flesh.
This Advent season, awaken to the promise. This Advent season, awaken to the presence of God-with-us, and know the comfort and joy he brings. Maybe you’ve already “seen” God woven into your day. Perhaps you’ve sensed God’s faithful presence already in your daily life. Or perhaps you don’t have the foggiest idea what it means to “see” God in daily life. And that’s OK. That just makes the invitation of Advent even more important.
Join in worship on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings this Advent. Maybe you’ll see God – who has been before you all along – in a whole new way.
Pr. Dale