Advent – searching for God.
As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’
John the Baptist knew who he wasn’t. He wasn’t the Messiah. That is who they were searching for and John certainly possessed remarkable qualities but he wasn’t the One and he knew it more than anyone.
I am not the healer.
I am not the Saviour.
So who was?
The one that is coming after me, John would say.
John says ‘keep searching’. Jesus says the one who seeks finds. Paul quotes Isaiah who says God was found by those who didn’t seek Him, so that is encouraging! The writer of Hebrews says for those who earnestly seek Him they will be rewarded.
The Christmas story tells us that not everyone who searches for Jesus are to be honoured. For example, cruel Herod searched but thankfully he didn’t find. But it also shows that every character is involved in searching at some point within that story.
This reminds me of the strangest of carols that I love to sing but for most of my life I hadn’t a clue what it was about and as a result it rarely made the Church carol service. Written in 1666:
I saw three ships come sailing in On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; I saw three ships come sailing in On Christmas Day in the morning.
And what was in those ships all three, On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day? And what was in those ships all three, On Christmas Day in the morning?
The Virgin Mary and Christ were there, On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; The Virgin Mary and Christ were there, On Christmas Day in the morning.
O they sailed into Bethlehem, On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; O they sailed into Bethlehem, On Christmas Day in the morning.
Big question: How can 3 ships come sailing into Bethlehem?
This was written in the age of exploration and discovering new lands. I think this carol symbolically reveals the joy of discovering the Christ-child has been born which is similar to ships coming into land having searched for it.
So here’s my point:
Have you stopped searching?
Have you found all that you are looking for? Is there nothing left to learn and discover?
You may have found the star of David or the Angel for the top of the Christmas tree, it took an effort but you found them. Can you make that same effort this year amidst all the demands upon you to go looking for Him who came for you?
Are you looking at a man (or a woman) and not discovering Christ? Even if they have dazzling gifts and seem so Christ-like that’s all they are, Christ-like.
Is it possible that this Advent you can begin a fresh search for Jesus?
Advent is exactly that: the opportunity to search.