From the Pulpit: Now is perfect time to welcome Christ

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Once we have considered the possibility that God is interested in us, and we have spent some time wondering about our place in God&8217;s kingdom, we are ready to talk about opening ourselves to the presence of God.

Often, as worship ends, I charge the congregation by reminding the worshipers that God precedes us in everything that we do.

In the work of God&8217;s Spirit, God&8217;s people are prepared to face whatever happens. God prepares our way. God prepares us.

As we are open to God&8217;s presence, we will better understand how to live as kingdom people. That&8217;s an important theological fact of life.

For our consideration this week is the question: When, if ever, was God more than a word?

This question begs of us to spend time considering moments in our life when the reality of God became more than knowledge, more than philosophy.

This question is meant to make us relive those places, experiences when we were keenly aware that God was present and involved in our lives.

Here are a few examples to get our thinking started: maybe at a church camp you became aware of God&8217;s calling to you; perhaps a friend or close relative was sick or dying and in your honest praying God revealed something of God&8217;s self to you.

Moms, remember when you gave birth to your child(ren)? Dads remember watching your child(ren) be born? Some of you may have been brought to embrace God&8217;s presence as you experienced something profound or beautiful in nature.

Take a few minutes to recall some of these sacred moments. Let their remembering wash over you and renew your appreciation of God&8217;s presence as a reality in the events of life.

I like to describe this divine presence using the word intimate. I believe that God wants intimacy.

God wants to know us. And, God wants to be known by us.

In the book, Calming the Restless Spirit, Ben Campbell Johnson reminds us that in Jesus, God is looking for a close relationship.

He recalls Revelation 3:20 &8220;Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come into you and eat with you, and you with me.&8221;

Consider this about that text: perhaps our exercise of remembering places and experiences represents the knocking at the door.

These memories may serve as a way to remind us that God is seeking deeper involvement, more intimate relations with us. Remember the important theological fact of life: God is present and God precedes us.

During this Advent Season, prepare yourself to invite the divine presence into your life. Expect God! Welcome God! Don&8217;t worry if your experience is different. After all, each person is unique. The good news is that God is able to embrace us all.

Mark Davenport is the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Alabaster (Cumberland)