The Christmas Eve sermon last night at St. John’s Episcopal Church-Norwood in Chevy Chase, MD was absolutely perfect. It was exactly what I needed to hear at the cap of an absolutely crazy, financially inconvenient (devastating…), stressful, and whelming week. I will not recap fully but suffice to say my mind was focused on the car in the shop and the dog in the hospital a lot more than in was preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. My entire sense of advent mystery was gone in a flash with “life”.
Fr. Sari Ateek preached about the inconvenience surrounding Jesus’ birth. He brought to light the truly challenging circumstances in which God came to life on Earth. Mary-an unwed mother, Joseph-a righteous carpenter, angels making proclamations and generally freaking people out, riding across the desert on a donkey as a 15 year old, 8 months pregnant woman, labor in the middle of nowhere….you get the gist. God did not claim that the life he was bringing into the world was one that would be easy. He brought the life, in the body of Jesus, to the world so that we would never lose sight of His message. God is with us. Emmanuel-God with Us.
So it is from this message that I came to re-affirm God’s presence in the “inconveniences” of life. Be they replacing seals on a transmission, working through challenges of weight gain and exercise, pulling together family gatherings, or fighting cancer, coping with divorce, or paying the rent with two pennies and prayer. God is always present. God is always with us. We may not always choose to acknowledge His presence, but He is ready for us, whenever we are ready. He did not promise us an easy life through faith; but He always promises the greatest promise and gives the greatest gift-Himself.