Saturday, December 01, 2012

Seeing the Signs

"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory...Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times..." (Luke 21:25-36).

We are always looking for a sign.

Some people regularly check their horoscope in the morning, searching for an indication that today will be the day when love will finally come knocking, a job offer will be received, or a dilemma will be solved.

Barren women longing to be pregnant scrutinize other signs. A different kind of cramp, a change in mood, a delayed period can all be seen as signs that God is finally listening.

A young woman in love can look for other signs. "He has not asked me what I want for Christmas. Does that mean he finally purchased a ring." "He was looking at my fingers rather intently. Does he know my size?"

We long for signs. We want to know that some things are changing and other things are staying stable. We long to hear how others are pleased with our performance, a sign that we are successful. We need to hear that life is in order, that things are looking up, that someone is in control.

But what are the signs we seek as followers of Christ? Do we recognize the movement of God in our lives?

I'm not the kind of Christian who regularly looks for a sign that signals how Christ is finally on the way to make all things right. I don't keep my ears open for the sounds of trumpets blowing, and I don't scrutinize weather patterns, comparing them to descriptions like the one above.

But I am the kind of Christian who is longing to see signs of God at work.

And perhaps the signs are all around us.

It's hard to walk into any grocery store during the days that separate Thanksgiving from Christmas without hearing bells ringing. I can't remember ever putting money in the bucket next to the bell. But I wonder how God might use even this sound as a sign - an invitation to ponder how we are invited to be of assistance to someone in need or share the gifts God has given to us with others?

Throughout the day, thoughts of different people regularly enter my mind. There are times when I am thoughtful enough to stop at that moment and make a call, letting someone know I've been thinking of them only to hear someone say, "You have no idea how much I needed to hear from you today." What if I paid more attention to these signs - to these thoughts - considering each one as an invitation to reach out with a phone call or a note of encouragement?

I recently shared communication with someone who shared how he longs to be in a faith community where his gifts are being noticed, named and nurtured. He has gifts to share but the gifts have not always been recognized, let alone put to faithful use. I wonder how God is using this conversation as a sign, a sign of ways in which I can do a better job of noticing and nurturing the gifts of people in our congregation, making sure everyone has a place to serve.

The signs of Christmas are all around us. Brightly lit trees reach toward the sky in parks around us and towards the ceiling of shopping centers far and wide. Wreaths adorn doors, and poles are wrapped in red ribbon. Advertisements fill our inbox and scamper across our screens, beckoning us to consider the perfect Christmas gift.

Still it's easy to miss the main message.

Christ is coming. We are between the time when he arrived in a borrowed barn and when he will come again. In the meantime, he longs to burst into our lives. He longs to dwell within us, tempting us to respond to his never-ending love and amazing grace. He longs to be the reason we act different, think differently, speak differently, give differently, love differently and live differently. He's ready to again be the greatest gift we have ever received.

So what if all these signs were not reminders of how far behind we are when it comes to buying, baking and bagging but instead how far we have to go when it comes to unwrapping the gift of Christ - the gift of Emmanuel who is always with us - the gift of a savior who makes all things new.

Dear Jesus, please open my eyes and ears to how you are at work all around me. Let me see the many ways in which you are trying to capture my attention. Show me how you want to use me this day. Come amongst me. Come inside me. Come and make all things new. Amen.

1 comment:

mimi said...