December 14th, 2011
By Carmen Schrock-Hurst
Instructor of Spiritual Formation at EMU
Co-pastor Immanuel Mennonite Church
Scripture: Luke 1:39-56
Twenty years ago when I unpacked the family heirloom nativity set my three year old daughter Grace begged to be allowed to play with the baby Jesus. Lacking parental wisdom at the moment I said she could if she was careful. Naturally it didn’t take her very long to lose baby Jesus.
The two of us spent a lot of time that week turning the house upside down looking for Jesus. And at church on the second Sunday of Advent when the children were asked what they had done in their house to get ready for Christmas Grace eagerly announced, “Well, we’ve already lost baby Jesus.”
Over the next weeks Grace and I frequently had a conversation about where the little Jesus might be and I would assure her if we kept looking we would eventually find him. And she would say through her tears, “but when mommy, when will we find Jesus?”
Suddenly one morning it dawned on me, that perhaps that question is really the cry of our Advent hearts. “When will we find Jesus?” And maybe, earnest searching is what Advent is really supposed to be about. Maybe this is the time of year we are called to get down on our hands and knees and shine flashlights into the remote, dusty, cob-webbed corners of our lives searching for our promised Savior.
Indeed Jesus is everywhere, we just have to look. Indeed our gospel reading commands us to watch and to be alert, to look for signs of God and our Isaiah reading from the first week of Advent teaches us that when the awesome God does act it is often in unexpected ways. And so it was that the little manger scene Jesus was found 20 years ago, just in time for Christmas, under the corner cupboard in the dining room, right where we had thought we’d looked dozens of times.
He was there, all along, but we missed him somehow. Maybe our eyes weren’t really open. Maybe we weren’t calling his name or striving to lay hold of him. Maybe the timing wasn’t right yet. All I know is that there was rejoicing in finding God in an unexpected place and time.
And that is my goal for Advent this year. To watch and to wait and to prepare so that when Jesus acts in the world around me I will recognize him. I hope you join me on the journey.