I don’t know about you, but I get so excited when I feel the presence of God in another person. There is something in us which desperately wants to find God in the tangible world around us, and in the people we meet. All the time we look outside ourselves, in search of something good – in search of some echo of Jesus, of the Saviour of our world.
There is something about understanding him a little better, getting a little closer to seeing his face in the faces of others, that totally grabs our attention. We want to be with him like we want to be ourselves; because who we are depends on who he is.
In today’s Gospel we find Elizabeth greeting Mary. Elizabeth’s baby, John the Baptist, leaps in her womb when he senses the presence of Jesus as Mary approaches. Both Elizabeth and her son celebrate when they realise their saviour is before them. Jesus is so present, so close at hand, and it is no wonder that John leapt when he sensed the presence of Christ in Mary.
But do we leap? Do we celebrate when we sense the presence of Jesus?
Probably not very often, or at least not all the time. Why? Because we are afraid, angry or anxious that Jesus is nearby. This is usually because it means that we can’t just do whatever we like. It means he is God and we are not: we can’t pretend that only we know what we are doing and that only we care. We can’t be reckless, lazy, half-hearted or stagnant without him knowing. We are frightfully aware that we are being watched under God’s CCTV vision! How dreadful! … Or it would be, if he saw us the way we see ourselves …
But he doesn’t. He doesn’t even see us the way others do. He sees us the way HE sees: with love, affection and merciful forgiveness – not harshly, but lovingly and in full knowledge of your perspective and experience. Any indifference, impatience or anxiety you have gone through is familiar to him and he knows the full pain of it. He is no stranger to brokenness and he is not afraid of yours.
We need to be open to God. It is all well and good to want him, but we also need to have a humble attitude about WHERE we find him. He might appear in the one person that drives you mad. He might appear in your little sister who annoys you to no end. He might be revealing himself to you through the way you are being disciplined at school or by your parents. He might not appear in a clean-cut or pleasant fashion, but that is precisely why we must be open to finding him anywhere. If Jesus became a baby to reach us, how many places could he be, waiting for you to notice him?
We hope you have enjoyed the Ignite Team’s special weekly Advent blog posts. Look out for fortnightly blog posts in the New Year!