The words from the first day of Advent replay in my mind:
“I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God’s saving power….Our temptation is to be distracted by them….When I have no eyes for the small signs of God’s presence…. I will always remain tempted to despair.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen, Gracias! A Latin American Journal)
Loud and impressive events call our name – especially from the Thanksgiving holidays until we greet the New Year. Why is that? We attend concerts , home tours, light displays and parties. We celebrate at church with extra events, musicals and services. We plan outings and shopping sprees before dawn ( I only did that once). We look around to see if we could just add one more “touch” to our already over-decorated homes.
We don’t mean to be attracted to the loud and impressive but we are. One year I returned from a visit to the largest private home in North America – the beautiful Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. Wowed by the decorations and number of Christmas trees, I came home convinced that I, too, should have something festive in all my rooms. Maybe, I thought, I could just add a small touch to each room—a vase of evergreens in my own, the Christmas “Joy” pillow in one daughter’s chair, the outgrown Nutcrackers guarding my son’s dresser and a stuffed Frosty The Snowman snuggling on another child’s bed. All small signs of the season I love. All small signs of this season of joy— anticipating and waiting for the celebration of Christ’s arrival again this year.
Do we have eyes for the small signs of Jesus this Christmas? Can we see one small sign of God every day? Today it was a friend who asked me to pray with her. We sat by her fire and thanked and requested and praised—and wondered about the small child who grew up and changed eternity, and then changed us. Quiet and unimpressive to the world, this small sign of eternity went quietly about the business of his life and I am the recipient of His wondrous love.
This small sign comes to all of us. Where will we see Him this Advent?
You come as a small child, helpless, defenseless, homeless… and yet your small hands flung the stars into space and cast planets into their orbits. You came that I could live. I want to see you every day. Amen
“I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”