Greetings in the name of the One who loves us and holds us dear.
I’m reading a daily Advent devotional booklet and owe the main thought in my letter to something I read in it concerning seeking God’s presence.
When Carolin was at Ebenezer United on Guelph Line, they did a weekly segment in Worship called God Sightings. The items they mentioned were rarely earth shattering, mostly reflecting what the people had enjoyed in nature and attributed to the presence of God.
Yet, I believe it held a key to placing God prominently in their day to day lives, both the mundane and the more profound occurrences that go unnoticed and unappreciated.
The writer of the Advent piece for December 2, 2021 states “I’ve looked under every rock and around every corner. Sometimes I find the residue of God’s presence, but other times I find only chaos. Where is God?”
I suspect that is a sentiment that is echoed in most of our homes at one time or another.
Where is God in our broken relationships with our children, our companions, our friends, our neighbours, and international relations with other countries?
We come to church in hopes of catching a glimpse of God. Yet, how many of you can say you actually find God in our sanctuary? Yes, it transcends beauty. It is breathtaking when the sun rays filter through the artistically created stained glass. The progression of panels gives us an illustrated history of our biblical heritage and sometimes, if we sit alone in silence, we can feel the wonderment of a divine Creator at work. But so often our prayers feel hollow and like they don’t reach their intended mark.
Seeking Gods presence seems to be hard wired into us. We crave a moment of intimacy and when we are fortunate enough to find it, we file it away to be forgotten without careful reflection.
We fail to take in that God is more likely to reach us as we hover over the bed in the dying breaths of a loved one, or the crib of a sleeping child, or a park bench with a stranger, or the edge of a pond while feeding the ducks, or watching a child’s joy flying a kite, or in a moment of rapturous music.
Flash mobs of uplifting choruses bring me near tears. They are moments when I experience the sublime joy of creation, harmony, companionship, and the feeling that I am not alone.
The spontaneity of kindness witnessed in any form reassures me that there is a God spark all around us if we only take the posture of recognizing it as such.
God resides in our homes, in our communities, on the streets, in the faces of our loved ones, amidst the fear of falling bombs, and in the darkness of natural disasters that eradicate and destroy.
If we make room, God resides in our hearts while watching and waiting for our next moment to begin. If you look closely, God can appear in your conversations with one another, in your gratitude for each little blessing that appears in your life, in the unexpected and seemingly random occurrences that bless you with a smile.
We may not see God when we come to church, but you bring God with you and you share God in so many ways with others each time you display compassion, kindness and mercy, each time you take the time to step outside yourself in the concern of another.
Your life does not exist in any form, outside of God. It does us well to stop and think that there is no feeling that we can retain forever. We have fleeting moments of God connectedness that come and go. It is similar to all other emotions we feel in some cases such as anger, depression, sadness or grief; it is good that they are not embedded within us. Negative feelings are interspersed with more positive ones that bring us joy and a sense of well-being. So being connected to God becomes an intentional, in the moment experience. But it can also be an unexpected, yet welcome intrusion into transforming us into another state of being.
I think of Paul on the Road to Damascus. The light of divine knowledge flooded onto him bringing him out of his fury of persecution into a vehicle for God’s redemptive plan for humanity. His new zeal for the good news of Jesus’ resurrection permitted the formation of the Christian church in many parts of the world. He probably would have said, initially, that this was an unwelcome intrusion, yet his subsequent actions were of a man devoted to living in the power of the risen Jesus Christ.
Carolin expressed to me that she doesn’t like Paul and I can appreciate that in some ways. I told her that she just hasn’t gotten to know him yet. Give it time. He grows on you. Look at his profound words in 1 Corinthians 13 on love. Look at his love for sharing the gospel with the many churches he helped plant. He was a flawed individual, no different than Abraham, or Jacob, or David of antiquity, yet he, too, walked in God’s ways of righteousness.
You and I, live our lives in the best version of ourselves that we can offer. The fellowship in our church reminds us that there is something greater beyond what we can see, that we do not live for ourselves alone. Even when we do not feel the connection, we know through past experience, the writings of the prophets, and the life of Jesus, that God’s promises do not fail. We are loved; we are held; and we are forever enclosed in the security of the eternal realm of being. Open your eyes, see and taste and feel and know that God is here, all around us in the midst of God’s mighty creation. In this Advent season, may you find new reason to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and recreate a space for the divine child to fill your heart with love and peace. May you be blessed and in turn bless others.
Be of good cheer!
Together in the Service of Christ