The Coming of God

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The Ninth Day of Advent

December 10, 2019

THE COMING OF GOD

Our God is the One who comes to us
in a burning bush,
in an angel’s song,
in a newborn Child.

Our God is the One who cannot be found
locked in the church,
not even in the sanctuary.

Our God will be where God will be
with no constraints,
no predictability.

Our God lives where our God lives,
and destruction has no power
and even death cannot stop
the living.

Our God will be born where God will be born,
but there is no place to look for the One who comes to us.

When God is ready
God will come
even to a Godforsaken place
like a stable in Bethlehem.

Watch . . .
for you know not when
God comes.

Watch, that you might be found
whenever
wherever God comes.

— Ann Weems

God comes to us in so many ways, in many places, at various points in our lives. Yesterday, my spiritual director shared with me a simple meditation offered by Dan Hines, “I am here…Here I am…Open.” It is a perfect prayer for those of us who wait for the coming of God.

We are here on Advent’s ninth day — waiting, watching, open — once again inviting God into our lives and wondering where exactly God might meet us. Perhaps God will meet us at a place of hope, of anticipation. For some people, God might show up at a place of despair or disappointment. Maybe God will find us in a place of deep, abiding joy.

During Advent’s days, God comes to us “in a burning bush, in an angel’s song, in a newborn Child.” And so we wait. We watch for bushes of fire. We listen for the singing of angels. We set our imaginations toward a stable in Bethlehem. We strain to see a Child in a manger surrounded by angels, and we welcome into our hearts a newborn Child that changes everything. There is a promise tucked into the lines of this poem by Ann Weems: that wherever our God lives, and especially when God lives in us, “destruction has no power and even death cannot stop the living.”

That is the pure joy of this season. That is the promise of Advent. That is the promise we hold in our hearts through all the seasons of life, knowing deeply and completely that God abides in us always.

One of my favorite hymns sung through the Advent season was written by Charles Wesley. Published in 1745, the message of “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is timeless, as relevant today as it was in times past.

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Indeed, the coming of God releases us from our fears. God is our strength and consolation, our highest hope and the joy of our longing hearts. I leave you with wise counsel from the poet:

Watch . . .
for you know not when
God comes.

Watch, that you might be found
whenever
wherever God comes.

Amen.

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