Seeing Advent Every Day
Advent might be over, but there is much we can learn from the season and continue to reflect on throughout the year.
An Advent sermon by Dominican Priest Oscar Uzin from Bolivia ended with this challenge:
“The Lord is Coming, always coming. Be alert to his coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; Life is recognizing the coming of the Lord.“
So what are some of the reasons that we may not have eyes to see the Lord’s coming in our lives, day by day? Here are a few thoughts.
1. Sometimes our spiritual eyes need to be healed in order for us to see. This was the constant message of the prophet Isaiah, and it was the experience of a man named Saul who was spiritually blind to the presence of Jesus in the people he was arresting.
2. Sometimes we just need help seeing the spiritual dimension of life. This was the message of 2 Kings 6, when Elijah prayed that the eyes of his servant would be opened so that he could see the protection God was already providing for them in the midst of apparent danger.
3. Sometimes we need to learn that God can be seen to be at work even in our worst sins, mistakes, and failures. Saul/Paul never argued that his missing the mark was justifiable. It was terrible. But, God certainly did not waste Paul’s failure. This failure was a constant motivation for Paul to serve Jesus wholeheartedly for many years.
Tony Dungy in “Uncommon” retells the story of Matt Emmons who was a champion marksman, but in the 2004 Olympics shot and hit the bullseye of the wrong target—three straight times. This champion, who was favored for a medal, failed miserably at his quest. That evening, Katrina Kurkova from the Czech Republic came by to console and encourage Matt in his misery. Three years later they were married—a turn of events Matt claims is better than a medal. Failure does not ever mean that there cannot be more to the story God is writing than meets our eyes at the moment.
4. Sometimes we just need help seeing what matters in the middle of the muddle.
During the teaching on Sunday, I showed a slide filled with rows of the number nine. Somewhere in that muddle was one numeral six—an upside-down nine. Seeing that six was very difficult for most. Why? Maybe for a reason similar to why the innkeeper missed the needs of a pregnant woman in the midst of the muddle of travelers due to a Roman Census. The chaos made it difficult for him to see what mattered, in its midst.
5. And, sometimes we just aren’t expecting the Lord’s presence to look like it does, and we miss what is right in front of our eyes. That is the story of two people on the road to Emmaus who cannot recognize Jesus until he breaks the bread in a manner that opens their eyes. It is also the challenge of Jesus’ parable in which those of us living daily life say, “When did we SEE you hungry, thirsty, in prison, sick…?” And, he says, when you did it to the least of these my sisters and brothers, you did it for me.”
Lord, open our eyes that we might see—every day.
Grace and peace to you,
Pastor Ron Simkins