God in the nooks and crannies

November 24, 2010 | Viewpoints | Number 23
Melissa Miller |
Melissa Miller

On the first Sunday of Advent, many of us will hear the proclamation, “The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Matthew 25:44). Advent worship resources from The Leader have highlighted the words “an unexpected hour” as a theme for this season. We are called to make space to receive God’s presence among us by slowing down and slipping into silence.

The time craziness that our society labours under becomes even more frenetic during the weeks before Christmas. Many parents are rushing through meals to herd their children to musical programs or sports events. Many teachers are loaded down with the combined weight of rehearsals for school programs and completion of report cards. Health care professionals may find themselves juggling their family lives with the increased winter needs of the sick. Church volunteers and pastors have their own struggles to mount the greatly treasured, if fractious, Christmas programs. And, of course, there’s the shopping, the concerts, the partying. How can we possibly find the time to experience God’s presence in all our busy-ness?

Others of us may experience another kind of time-problem burden. We are lonely, grieving the loved ones who have passed on, or missing the opportunity to enjoy our family and friends because of their busy-ness. Some of us are unemployed or stuck in soul-sapping jobs. Some of us have transitioned from paid employment to retirement and are finding the change to be a difficult one. How do we experience God’s presence in the empty hours?

Perhaps we begin by inviting God into the nooks and crannies of our lives, whether they are crammed full of high-paced activity or achingly bare. Some of us might benefit by doing less, finding little ways to step off the frenzied hamster-wheel and into the spacious, life-giving presence of God. As we are counselled in The Leader, we can make fewer cookies, reduce our shopping and forgo office work to join the youth ice skate. Others of us may more deliberately invite God into the forlorn spaces of our lives.

Rachel Miller Jacobs, writing in the same issue of The Leader, invites us to dip into the Isaiah scriptures of the season, passages that hold out a vision of heart-melting peace, surprising growth and overwhelming abundance. With such a backdrop, we can ask for God’s eyes to see the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of our days. We can keep our eyes peeled for signs of Emmanuel—God-with-us—in our lives.

I had such a moment not too long ago. On a late summer evening, my husband, son and I were enjoying a pleasant dinner on the patio. I stepped into the house briefly to get more food. As I moved from the golden light of the outdoors into the shadow of the darkened hallway, I received in my heart a visitation of happiness. “I am so blessed,” were the words that came with the happiness. Blessed by simple things: an outdoor patio, warm sun on skin, delicious food and drink, and, especially, loved ones to share in such bounty. I stood in the silence for a moment, marvelling at the unexpected joy, a pleasure so intense that I could scarcely take it in.

Advent is a season of waiting and wondering. This year, may we seize the opportunity to seek and to find the God who keeps coming to us, transforming the ordinary into the awesome, bringing light into our darkness, astonishing growth in the desert, and all-powerful love through the tiniest of humans.

Melissa Miller (familyties@mts.net) lives in Winnipeg, Man., where she ponders family relationships as a pastor, counsellor and author.

Melissa Miller

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