I listened to a sermon recently by Corey Widmer, the pastor of my former church in Richmond, Virginia. You can listen to the sermon, “Searching God” here.
Everytime I listen to him, I wish that I listened to him more; it makes me remember and miss home, and more importantly takes me to the crux of the Gospel- the outlandish generosity God has shown a broken and bumbling people. He outlines our calling to live in such a way that is a response to this radical love shown to us.
This sermon in particular comes from Luke 15- the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin. In short: God rejoicing over our coming to Him. Rejoicing doesn’t even go far enough. He is ELATED that we are His, and the world stops when we finally put our bags down and let Him love us. In this, I find the essence of a deeply relational, profoundly personal God. When I read this passage, I believe more than other times, that indeed, not a moment goes by when my Heavenly Father is not one with me- in his mind and on his heart so much so that I might be “engraved on the palms of His hands,” like the prophet Isaiah says.
During advent we use language that rejoices over the coming of our Savior: “Joy to the World!” I love this season dedicated to love and longing, I picture God’s people, linking hands, smiles bright, “We are ready!” “We have been waiting!” “Come to us!”
But what I think is funny is that in our imploring and our exultations, sometimes I forget that it is not we, the receivers that have an ounce of anything to really offer. “Welcoming” brings along with it this idea of hospitality and graciousness. It is fun to welcome a beloved friend into a home cozy and lit with candles- soup on the stove, bread on the oven. At least it is for me. I like giving and offering parts of myself to people that I love.
But may we remember in this season, that despite our humble exclamations to the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!” It really is He, who is coming after us. And while in His graciousness and lavish love, He finds our offerings and preparations perfect, they are pittance to His glory.
I am reminded of a quote by Simon Tugwell my best friend Chelsea shared with me a long time ago, and while I never think of it as advent-y, for some reason, it is today:
“So long as we imagine it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about: He is looking for us. And we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it. We are in full flight from Him…and he knows this and has taken it into account. Where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into His arms. Our hope is in His determination to save us, and He will not give in.”
Emmanuel, God with us. Amen.