In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
Christ is born!
Have you ever asked yourself – where is God?
Where is He when I call out to Him? Where is He when I pray to Him? Where is He when I need Him the most?
Where is God?
We’ve looked for Him in all sorts of places. Yuriy Gagarin, the first man to journey into space, reportedly said that he went to space and saw no God. (He didn’t really say that, as he was a faithful Orthodox Christian. It was the God-less Soviets who put words into his mouth). We even sent a man to the moon and still did not find God.
Some people say that God is in our hearts, all we have to do is go inside. Well, my heart just might be the darkest and most dangerous and scariest place imaginable. If I go looking inside, I will find someone, but that someone will not be God. It will be me. And I don’t think I want to come face to face with myself.
Very often, when we desire for God to make an appearance in our life, it is because we want something from Him. Right? God, I am sick: make me well. God, I don’t have a job: let me win a lottery. God, I am tired of so and so: make them disappear.
Usually, we don’t have a sense of a relationship when we lay out our expectations of God. And it is exactly a relationship we have with Him. Even when we pray, especially when we pray. Prayer is not a dialogue, it’s not a conversation. In fact, when we hear voices answering us when we pray, then we need to see a specialist.
Our life with God is a relationship, a kind of relationship where we usually show up only when we need something, or when we want to blame Him for something that happened or did not happen in our life. But, for example, if I show up for my wife or my children or my relatives only when I need something from them, how would they react to me?
We may complain that God does not answer our prayers, that He does not come when we call, but if our life with God is a relationship, then He could complain just as much about us not showing up. We’ve been waiting for God to come to us, to join us. But from God’s point of view, He’s been waiting for us to join Him. Just like us, He is free not to show up. He does not have to come when we call, but we do need to know how to call upon God in the right way, which includes making ourselves available to Him in humility.
Everything about God is saturated with humility, as we find out today, on the day when Christ was born, when God became man, a human being. God Who is everywhere, Who is everything, all-powerful and uncontainable, humbles Himself to become a little Child for our sake. Therefore, our encounter with God, our relationship with Him happens when we are also most humble.
What we bring to any encounter has a profound effect on what happens in it, and here we are talking about an encounter with God. So what are we bringing to this encounter? We can bring our question – where is God? But, we can’t simply turn around, after asking once and not getting an answer, and announce that we have not seen God, and declare Him non-existent. We have to know how to look for Him, how to ask for His presence.
A 19th century Polish Jewish rabbi (sometimes it’s good to go outside our tradition to find answers to difficult questions) asked his students once the same question we are asking ourselves today, “Where is God?” They replied, “Does not the Bible tell us that the whole world is full of His glory?” The rabbi said, “That may be fine for the heavenly angels, but the answer for human beings is different. God is present wherever we allow God to enter.”
God is present wherever we allow God to enter.
Today’s Great Feast, one of the most beloved holidays of all Christians is celebrated because one of us allowed God to enter into this world and reveal Himself as man, as God incarnate. All-powerful God humbled Himself in order to do this (He is all-powerful, after all, He can do whatever He wants), but He still needed one of us to allow Him in. God entered into humanity at the permission of a first-century Jewish girl, a young woman.
The Creator of the universe stepped into our world, our time, onto our planet, into our humanity, by being conceived of the Holy Spirit at the consent of the Virgin Mary. God could have revealed Himself in any way He wanted, yet He decided to become like us, and be born. That is the kind of closeness and intimacy He desires with us.
God has come to us by becoming a human person like us, and He has come to us precisely for us, not for any other reason, and definitely not for anything He can get from us (since everything we have has always been His). He needs nothing from us, He is here because of us. Are we here because of Him?
So, where is God?
I think today’s feast day quite clearly shows us that God is here, He has entered our life. The question now becomes – are we going to allow Him in? Will God Who humbled Himself find a humble heart to allow Him in and develop a relationship with Him?
Christ is born!
This sermon is based on a concluding chapter of a wonderful book "An Introduction to God."