This is the time of year many of us wander the malls for hours searching for the perfect gift for the person who has everything. But the searching actually begins in the parking lot as we drive around looking for a spot that is as close to being legal without getting us towed. To make matters worse, we now find ourselves searching for the “Christ” in a celebration is more likely to be advertised as ‘Holiday’ instead of Christmas. But is it such a bad thing to have to look for Jesus? As I think about the Christmas story it has always been about searching— and not just about us searching for God but about God searching for us as well.
If you think about it, looking for someone else is a lot easier when we know they are actually looking for us as well. The magic of Christmas is not only found in our journey to find its true meaning, but the discovery that it may be pursuing us as well. God has always been a searching God. In the beginning of the Hebrew scriptures we are told of a creator who searches for his creation in the garden. This looking has a notion of longing with it. It is more than merely finding something that is not were it should be. In Luke Jesus describes in three stories the longing nature of God. He says God is like a women searching for a coin, or a shepherd searching for a lost sheep, or a father who lost a son. The language is clear—this is a God who searches.
This search isn’t more obvious than in the nativity narrative. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and declares that this special child is to have the title Immanuel which means God with us. God with, and God among his creation. This is a God who searches and wants to be found. Hiding in plain sight for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The challenge for us is do we want to be found?
Will God find us, where we find ourselves?
Over the next few weeks if your like me, you find yourself in a whole variety of situations— some more stressful than others. Will God find us in those situations? Do we believe that God is looking to come to us in those moments? I have come to discover that God desires to show up in all of those moments. God shows up in the stress, in the pain, in the hurt and in the disappointment. Most of us will fail to acknowledge his presence because God doesn’t look like what we expect him too. We expect the white knight, or at least a Gandolf with glowing staff. But this is a God of surprise.
If you want more proof of this look at the nativity creche in your window. Let me remind you that God is the one in the little feed box. How crazy is that. God never looks like what you would expect. Some times God shows up in the the kind word of a stranger, sometimes in the forgiveness of a friend. Sometimes in the abstract, sometimes in the finite. But this is a God who is with us, he is Immanuel. As Jason Salyers writes so eloquently- The Christ Child comes to each and every person, in our moment by moment decisions, our goal is to be a manger and not an Inn.
So in your searching this Christmas – just remember your not the only one, God is searching too. The real questions is, will God find you where you find yourself?