Do you feel disconnected from God? Maybe it is because you are looking to connect with God in the wrong place.
One of the assigned readings for the Christmas season is John 1: 1-18. For Christians, this is arguably one of the most important passages in all of scripture. Verse 14 says it all, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” One translation of “lived among us” is “pitched a tent” among us. In addition to the allusions to the Tent of Meeting and the Ark of the Covenant, John is telling us that in Jesus God set up residence in our backyard, in our neighborhood, in the stuff of our lives. John is telling us that if we are looking for the glory of God in the esoteric, or secret formulas, or special “spiritual places” of life, we are looking in the wrong place. If you want to see God’s glory, look no further than your life and the neighborhood you live in.
You want to see God, look at my next door neighbor who for years took one of our elderly neighbors to high school football games when he couldn’t manage it on his own anymore. You want to see God, look at the guy I know who picks up two elderly members of St. Timothy’s every week so that they can participate in an early morning men’s group. You want to see God, look at the woman who brings a woman to a Eucharist every week. That’s right, every week! You want to see grace and truth, look at the man who drives 2 hours every other week to visit a young man in prison.
If we want to see God, we need look no further than one neighbor loving another. Sometimes this “neighbor love” appears in a profoundly communal fashion. For the third year in a row, I have attended the Christmas celebration for the Whiz Kids program at Mercer Elementary. Every Tuesday, 45 adults from St. Timothy’s and elsewhere tutor at- risk kids who struggle to read. Last Tuesday, the tutors and the Whiz Kids and their families gathered for a Christmas celebration. Every year I find myself saying this party is what God looks like. This is the Kingdom Jesus proclaimed. This is heaven on earth. This is what God intends the world to be—neighbors loving neighbors.
If you are frustrated that you don’t feel more connected to God, you are probably looking in the wrong place. Not only are you not looking at the God who appears in the love between neighbors, but you are probably overlooking the God who is made known through your own life. This may be the most challenging place of all to see God’s glory. Depending upon what messages have become part of your DNA over the course of your life, you may find it virtually impossible to imagine yourself as the dwelling place for God. But I’ll just bet that every day you love a neighbor in some small way. I’ll just bet that you offer someone a kind word, an encouraging smile, a little love. If so you are revealing that you are God’s dwelling place through whom someone else may see that “the Word has indeed become flesh and dwelt among us.”