I thought for a long time that GOD was up here and WE were down here and everything up there was good and wonderful and holy and amazing and everything down here was bad and ugly and just the everyday crap you had to put up with. I would come to church on a really good day or go on a retreat, or to a conference or something and I would (hands meet) MEET GOD. I would have this wonderful experience where I got to FEEL God and I thought that’s what being a Christian was all about. People said that God was always with me, but that was something I just had to believe, it didn’t really make much sense in my real life at the time. What I thought was that everything holy, everything spiritual, everything meaningful and life-changing, was separate from the everyday things, the practical things, the hard things.
One year during advent I started to think and talk about this separation. Someone pointed out to me that this might not be the most helpful way of understanding things. During Advent, we anticipate Christmas, and we prepare to receive Jesus, or God, as a human being. Advent has become my favourite time of year as I always look forward to hearing Vic share his passion for the Incarnation – God made flesh. As I started thinking about this, I began to see that for me, God becoming a human, Mary becoming pregnant and Jesus being born, this means that there is no separation. I began to discover that for me, thinking of all of these things as separate doesn’t give me a good picture of what life is really like. Us and God, of the holy things and the mundane things, beautiful things and boring things, life, and death. The separation I had learned about, the idea of God being up here and us down here, wasn’t the most revealing way of understanding God for me. I was beginning to see a different way of painting the picture of what God is like. It occurred to me that perhaps when we consider Advent and Christmas, we can see that we are here, AND God is here. The incarnation, God becoming human, shows us that the holy things, the good things, the beautiful and wonderful things, they are here too.
This is not a new idea. The Franciscan Monks, who have been around for centuries, believe that there is no clear distinction between the sacred and the “profane” or ordinary, because Christ existed in matter, from all eternity. When the Bible talks about creation, it says in Colossians that in Jesus, all things were created. Everything was created through him and for him. Jesus, holds everything together. For the Franciscans, God is everything – a rock, a tree, an animal, an angel, a human. So that is what I want to share with you. I want to share with you the idea that GOD IS WITH US. Goodness and beauty. They are with us. The main way that I think of God, is as LOVE. So, Jesus as a baby in a dirty manger means that LOVE is not something far away or separate from everyday life. Love is with us!!