Meeting God

“Where did you see God today?”
This is a question I ask, or hear
on just about every youth retreat, 
every mission trip, 
every big church gathering I have ever attended
“Where did you see God today?”

The question is always asked at the end of day… 
After we spent the day walking through sheet-metal-shack neighborhoods, 
meeting people living in the poverty of slums 
on the outskirts of a struggling city: 

We ask each other: “Where did you see God today?”

After we spent the day visiting our congressional leaders at the capitol in DC, powerful people who were dressed in suits, people who were changing lives on a national & global scale: 

We ask each other: “Where did you see God today?”,

After we spent the day with hundreds of sweaty, enthusiastic, & energetic teenagers from around the country at a youth conference. Worshipping, playing, and having deep discussions:

   We ask each other: “Where did you see God today?”

No matter the context of the day, 
We ask this question.
As if we should always expect God to appear in the midst of our every day lives.
As if, no matter how mundane and ordinary the day is, 
or how exceptional and rare and unique it is… 

God will always be trying to appear to us.

And no matter what, someone always had answer:
“I saw God when we visited that one house in Haiti, the one with the homebound elderly woman. She had nothing by our standards and yet still she insisted on offering us a snack to help us feel welcome”

“I saw God by the national mall. He was that garbage man wearing an orange reflective vest. He stopped what he was doing and ran in front of oncoming traffic to make sure that that woman got through the crosswalk safely”

“I saw God when that popular middle school boy decided to make it his mission for the day to include the new kid in every game and activity we did.”

No matter what, 
when we take time to consider our day, 
When we take time to look for God 
no matter what… we always find God. 

One of the timeless messages of this night is
that God isn’t far off or removed from the world, 
but that God is intimately connected with our world.

That God. is. with us.
Because this night we remember that God is born into the world, 
innocent, weak, and vulnerable,
God is born a human being, flesh and bone
just like any one of us. 

This message is the same that was proclaimed to the shepherds and the magi so long ago… 
This is the good news the angels that the shares, 
this is the wonderful, joyous news for all People

Don’t be afraid any longer… God is here…
Your prayers have been heard… 
The messiah, God’s anointed one, has come…
your savior has been born into the world 
and he is just like one of us, 
God is here… right here… right now

When the shepherds hear this… 
they have to go and see it for themselves,
they respond by going immediately to seek out God in their midst with their own eyes.
And when they meet God… these poor, no-name, blue collar shepherds are so deeply moved that they leave in pure celebration… praising God and telling everyone about what they’d seen.

When the magi hear this news… 
when they discern, through their study of the stars that the messiah has come… 
they form an expedition to go and see it for themselves. 
They travel for days, reading the signs, 
and searching for God where they would have never expected... in rural small-town Bethlehem.
And when they arrive, when they see God 
in this fragile infant… 
they are overwhelmed with joy!
These powerful, learned, important people from so far away fall on their knees in humility and honor.

Tonight, this same message is proclaimed to us, in this ancient story told anew, 
in the angelic sounds of carols and choirs, 
in the candle-lit faces of the loved ones and strangers that sit beside us…
Tonight, this same message is proclaimed to us,
Your savior has come,
the light breaks into the world’s darkness, 
God’s Word has taken on flesh, 
become fully human, like you and like me…
God is in our midst…
This is wonderful joyful news for ALL people, to every corner of the globe…
So hearing this question remains… “How will we respond? Will we go and see it for ourselves?”

May we go… 
expecting God to appear even in unexpected places
May we look for God around every corner, until we meet him
And when we find God… 
When we see God
in the old woman, 
in the garbage man, in the teenager, 
or in the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes
may such, overwhelming joy swell up in our hearts 
that we cannot contain it
but have to share this wonderful, joyous news with others…
And invite them as well, to come; come and see God in their midst for themselves.

Amen