A Happy New Year to you all.
Today’s readings for the 9th Day of Christmas offer us a continued unfolding of the miracle of Christmas, God breaking forth in mysterious ways. We see that God often comes veiled in mystery, and comes in unexpected ways. That is, in part, the Christmas story and the entire biblical story as well.
In 1 Kings, Elijah flees to Mount Horeb. There he finds himself nourished by God himself, as an angel touches him and says “Get up and eat.” He finds cakes baked on hot stones, and a jar of water.
Ultimately Elijah is seeking for God. He is also hiding from those seeking him. He is commanded by the angel, in one of the most profound and memorable sightings of God: He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heart it, he wrapped his face in the mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him….
This is profundity of our God that nonbelievers cannot grasp. Our God is not one who micromanages the world with an iron fist. Our God is not the kind of God to show up in the midst of a New Year’s Day Parade, or however important of a Rose Bowl, to provide some magic and make us all believe like some grand Santa Claus in the sky. (We found that out the hard way, didn’t we Sooner fans? Up by 17 and with the ball. And…utter collapse. This one stings. It really does.)
Our God is the kind of God who comes in the form of a small infant, or in the sheer silence. And why? To remind us that we play a part in this grand adventure of life.
Our God desires our allegiance. We need to to listen. We need to pay attention, even when the rest of the world has given up and stopped listening to God. God offers us mystery and the unexpected. It may not seem like much. But if this whole “following God thing was easy” everyone would do it.
We are called to buck the trend – to do what is unpopular – and follow our God into the unknown, into what is uncomfortable, into what is unpopular or perhaps even inconceivable, to give our life and our love away.
Only then may we encounter God.