DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?
December 28, 2014 by Ken Dale
Our theme ?Here Is Your God? comes to a close on this first Sunday after Christmas. Today our focus is ?God in the Child: Heirs to the Kin-dom.? So what do you think? They have long said that Christmas is for children. Where do we see God in a child? This church family had some wonderfully interesting responses: ?I have seen God in a child when:?
?he prays for the world instead of himself,? ?they smile and love unconditionally ? Light beams!? (there were lots of smile related responses) ?they are sincerely children- full of wonder,? ?they take on a cause that makes them see and appreciate how helping others less fortunate can make them feel,? ?a child with autism pats the back of a crying child and asks ?are you ok??? ?when he/she shows trust and caring,? ?the child asks questions about God,? ?their eyes bespeak wonder,? ?a toddler shares his simple faith,? ?when he/she is born,? ?he says I believe in prayer because people have prayed for me and I felt it,? ?the child radiates happiness at the sight of a bug on a flower that has just bloomed.?
Jesus held up children as an example of how to receive the kingdom or realm of God. They are open, trusting, welcoming of something new and life giving. It is easy for us to understand why Jesus would do that. And yes ? it is easy to see God in a child?s being. I have long loved the saying that the birth of a child is a sign of God?s desire that life continues ? something like that!
Christmas is for children. Does that mean there is little for grownups? Let children be expectant and excited and let them dance with joy at the marvel of it all? Grownups are too old serious and experienced to hope for anything new? Grownups can find their happiness in the children. Anyone here buy that? I hope not ? The passage from Isaiah says ?you shall be called by a new name? and Isaiah is declaring that something new is being born. Yes we celebrate the presence of God in children ? and specifically in the life of the new born child whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. But see what God is doing in that child. Paul writes in Galatians: God has sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying ?Abba! Father!? So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
We finish our ?Here is Your God? series this day knowing that we are part of the family ? ?the kin-dom of God.? Here is your God in the birth of the baby Jesus as God is at work in this world in a new and very intimate way. The gospel of Luke shows us today that Christmas is also for adults ? for grownups who look beyond Rudolf and Santa. Luke gives us that wonderful story of Anna the prophet and Simeon. An old man and an old woman who inhabit the Temple in Jerusalem. They are advanced in age and acquired the wisdom that comes with waiting and takes decades to gather and shape. Anna and Simeon see things that so many others miss because they are in such a hurry. No doubt they have been watching others who bring their children to the Temple. But when they looked they were not seeing ?oh he?s got his father?s smile? ?oh she?s got her mother?s eyes? ?oh see the family resemblance in that jaw line or nose or whatever!? They are looking for so much more ? they are looking for the consolation of Israel ? for ancient promises to be fulfilled. God had promised a kingdom overflowing with peace and security, where people could live unafraid, and be blessed by both the sun and the rain. They were looking for signs of the coming of God?s kingdom.
Surely many others of God?s people were looking for the same thing ? and they looked at historical events and they looked to the stars and some stopped looking. But Anna and Simeon looked in the Temple ? for years they waited and they looked.
Would that happen today? Probably not ? we?re in a hurry ? instant foods of all sorts ? we?re getting, it seems, that even the microwave oven takes too long! I remember an internet update telling me if I upgraded I could get things up to 5 seconds faster! FIVE SECONDS!?!?
I was impressed when I bought a few things on line from LLBean ? free delivery ? and they were on my porch the next afternoon. We don?t like to wait.
But there is so much of life that happens in God?s time ? not ours. And there is so much of life that we miss because we are in such a hurry and are happy to settle for something much less. Anna and Simeon know all about waiting ? and about looking closely. I wonder when there is a new baby in our family ? do we look for anything beyond family resemblances ? do we look for the fulfillment of hopes and dreams ? for the big things like peace on earth, like justice, like our moving a little closer to God?s kingdom?
Anna and Simeon waited in the Temple and looked ? and in their waiting and their looking they were prepared to see what God was doing when it arrived with Mary and Joseph. Yes ? it was just a child, but Anna and Simeon saw so much more. They saw the consolation of God.?? God is faithful ? and those who watch and those wait shall see it ? for God is faithful.
Our Advent-Christmas series ends today ? and those little slips of yellow paper on my desk for the past month will soon be leaving. On them we as a church family have listed where we see God ? in people, in the world, in the lowly, in the life of the church, in the light, and in a child. It is my hope and prayer for us all that as we enter God?s gift of this New Year we will continue to be on the look-out for God present in our lives in these and in so many other ways. But as we look ? may we take a lesson from Anna and Simeon ? and be willing to wait as long as it takes that we may actually see. And in our looking may we be willing to look deeply beyond the surface and remember that it is the presence of God we are hoping to see.