To You, Yahweh, I lift up my soul, O my God.
Yahweh, show your ways to me. Teach me your paths and
keep me in the ways of your truth for you are the God that saves me.
All day long I hope in your goodness.
Remember your love, the love that you promised long ago,
and the kindness that you gave from of old.
~ Tim Manion, 1976 (From Psalm 25)
Advent begins this coming Sunday. How is that possible? It would be nice if everything would just slow down. Advent is a good time to do that, but why would we want to? There’s so much to do? Well, for one, we would be able enjoy Christmas when it comes, but a major reason for me is that when I am rushing around like crazy, I might miss the “suddenlys” that happen when I am not really paying attention, and I don’t want to do that.
God shows up in the suddenlys and life changes – he suddenly does a new thing. We live life doing what we are doing, and suddenly….!
Suddenly, an angel appears to Zachariah and says, “You will have a son….”
Suddenly, and angel appears to Mary and says, “I have news for you, you lucky girl. God has chosen you….”
Suddenly, the baby John jumps in his mother’s womb when he recognizes the Messiah in Mary’s.
Suddenly, angels appear in the heavens singing, “Glory to God in the Highest….”
Suddenly, a star appears over a manger.
Suddenly, there is a cross, where Jesus hanging says, “Father, forgive….”
Suddenly, on a Sunday, a stone blows away from the door of a tomb and….
Suddenly, a mighty wind fills a room and scared apprentices are changed….
Suddenly, life is changed never to be the same. God is like that.
The burning bush in the Old Testament was one of those “suddenlys”, too. You know that story but let me share a more modern one. I was one of the spiritual directors on a weekend when a table leader came to get me. She wanted me to hear a story. One of the women had been wrestling with a calling she felt was from God, but she wasn’t sure. Someone at the table asked her if she was waiting for a burning bush. When those at the table looked out of the window, suddenly….a bush was on fire. This bush wasn’t burning up, either. The reflection on the window in the room, of the fire in the fireplace, made it appear that the bush outside was burning. The really odd thing was that where ever I stood in the room, the lit bush was still visible. Unusual! Out of the ordinary! Strange! The woman answered God’s call. Her life changed and has never been the same.
Sometimes, a “suddenly” comes to me when I am reading the Bible. Sometimes, it comes when I read a spiritual book. The voice of God jumps from the page. Sometimes, while in the shower, He speaks. Sometimes, I realize that the words a person is speaking to me have suddenly become the voice of God. Often, creation speaks – like a burning bush. Of course God is with us all the time, but when I am very busy, I could miss seeing him. I might assume that what I hear or see is just an ordinary happening. I have to choose how I will respond, because these “sudden” appearances of God have all changed my life in one way or another. I want to notice and Advent is a good time for that. It’s good to slow down in the middle of everything as we prepare for Christmas to pay attention to those happenings around us. Who knows what we will see. I hope to do this. How about you?
Come, Jesus, we’re waiting and watching for you.