So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manager. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. —Luke 2:16-18
The shepherds went with haste to see this thing that has taken place. What they saw was a baby swaddled in a crib with mom and dad standing by. Just an ordinary sight. But that seems to be the point. We expect to find God in grand places, like our beautiful sanctuary at this time of the year, but scripture reminds us over and over that God chooses many avenues for self-disclosure. Moses heard and saw God in a burning bush and continued to see God in the long journey in the wilderness.
Once I visited a young mother in the hospital after she had given birth to a baby girl she named Emmanuel. I had the privilege of holding Emmanuel for about thirty minutes before feeding time. When I gave her back to her mother, I said, “Thank you for letting me look upon the face of God.” I was not just making a play on her name, which means “God with us,” though that is certainly true. Mother Teresa of Calcutta once asked a United Methodist official who was holding a baby she had just rescued from a garbage dump, “Do you see God in that baby’s eyes? God gives himself to us in the needy of the world.”
The marvelous message of this holy season is that “God is with us, Emmanuel”, and we will see God not only in the sanctuary, but in the faces of everyone we meet.
Through practicing the holy habits of this season, we can sharpen our ability to turn aside and see God in the most ordinary places.
Teamwork pushed the creation of this Advent devotional book. Thanks to Larry Lenow for giving us permission to take the photographs. Without Dianne Moore’s photographic and technical skills there would be no devotional book. Dianne must have the patience of Job trying to teach Bill Pike camera settings!! Kim Tingler handled the formatting and design, and her gentle tenacity allowed for just the right amount of tweaking to get us a finished product. Judy Oguich’s experience from her work with previous Advent projects gave us a path to follow, not to mention her keen eyes. Shea Tuttle researched and selected the scripture readings. A gifted writer, Shea also had the tough job of editing. Paula Cadden helped coordinate the printing, and way up yonder in northern Virginia, Kim Johnson managed the social media distribution. Finally, we thank all of our writers for their heartfelt contributions.