“It is a happiness to wonder; it is a happiness to dream”
Edgar Allan Poe, “Complete Stories and Poems”
On one level, the Christmas story is very ordinary. It is the story of the birth of a baby. And yet, in this simple, seemingly ordinary event, God becomes present among us. As John’s gospel in the first chapter so beautifully puts it, “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” God comes to us.
The Bible describes accounts of God’s presence amongst us. Stories of a loving Creator who wishes to pitch a tent among us. To be in relationship with us.
Bette Midler’s popular song “From a distance” describes our beautiful world and that from a distance, our divisions cannot be seen. I like that. However, there are other words that describe God at a distance. “God is watching us, God is watching us, God is watching us from a distance.” While it may fit with the sentiment of the song, I have never felt that God watched us from a distance.
While some like to keep God on that heavenly throne above the clouds watching, this does not sound like the God described in the Bible. The birth of Jesus is about God with us, among us, one of us. St. Patrick wrote: “Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ be behind me. King of my heart; Christ be within me, Christ below me, Christ above me never to part.”
I can’t think of a better way to observe Advent than to open our eyes and hearts to see the wonder of God’s presence with us. Taking a few moments each day to pay attention to how, when and where you experience God in the days of your ordinary and sometimes messy life, may help you grow in awareness and wonder of just how fully God is truly with you at every moment.