The December practice for New Hope is to notice where the work, will, and presence of God "appear" throughout the day. For that reason, this post (and its follow-up) will be mirrored in the Everyday Spirituality:5x5 blog, which specializes in helping people recognize and respond to God in everyday life.
Even if you didn't have children growing up in the '80s, you will likely remember Waldo and the many scenes in which he needed to be "found." His appearance was distinctive in the red-striped shirt and knit cap. It should have been simple, but it wasn't. The noise and distractions of a crowd at the beach, fairground, park, zoo, etc. could make it hard to pick out a single person no matter how distinctive. Once you found Waldo, of course, it was easy to spot him again and again. You wondered why it took you so long in the first place.
Our practice for December is to notice where God appears in our everyday lives. This is the time of the year when we celebrate that "the Word became flesh" in Jesus Christ. At the first Christmas, the Divine was embodied (incarnated). This was meant to be more than a point in history to be memorialized every year. At its best, this season (Advent) attunes us to the work of God and is a template for how God continues to be embodied in us as an extension of the work of Christ.
Which leads me back to Waldo...and Jesus. Think of this month's practice as a daily, "Where's Jesus?" puzzle.
Like Waldo, Jesus is distinctive but is not always easy to spot in the middle of our noisy and busy lives, especially at Christmas (the irony should be noted.) But unlike Waldo, Jesus is not just in one place. The will and work of Christ can be seen everywhere if you know where to look.
Here's how it works:
- Bring to mind the distinct characteristics of Jesus. This is a great conversation with children, friends and LIFE Groups. Likely you will identify things like:
- (you take it from here)
- Now, begin to notice where you see those qualities appear in the people around you:
- The person who donates time or money to help the disadvantaged
- The people who care for those grieving
- The parents who love their child even as he/she is alienated from them
- The one who goes out of their way to show kindness
Where you see the qualities and characteristics of Christ embodied in others, you are seeing the unfinished and ongoing work of Christmas take place. You've "found" Jesus! The Divine is once again becoming incarnate.
Share what you find with others. Make it part of your daily practice. This alone will change the way your life. Once you begin to see Jesus revealed in your everyday life, you'll wonder why it took you so long in the first place. You might even begin to believe that Christ can work through you, too. The most important candle you light this Advent...is you.
There is a third step to this practice that will turbo-charge this even more. But that will be explained in the next post...