Saturday, December 5, 2015
Advent Calendar Day 6
Signs of things promised. This is what the prophet spoke of -- the sign to look for the coming of the promised Messiah. Of course, I wonder how popular the name Immanuel was or became at that time. Young women are pregnant all the time. I think this was one of those vague pronouncements, like 'when the sun rises on the third day of the week, this shall be a sign.' Well this happens 52 weeks a year for as many years as we are in existence. Which week, which year? Which young woman? Which baby named 'God with us?'
But that is the thing with signs isn't it. They are everywhere for those who are discerning. They are also everywhere for those who are looking for the latest sign. I knew a young man one time who saw signs from God, God telling him to do something, in everything that happened. It is one thing to have a series of things occur that you realize is God showing you the way; it is another for a multitude of "signs" carrying you in different directions. I do not think God is either fickle or a tease.
So, how do we know when something is of God? How can we tell that it is a true sign? I think it is much like anything else really--we will understand more if we truly know the one sending us the sign. Knowing God and how God speaks to you, not just floundering around thinking everything is a sign from God, but knowing the one sending the sign well enough to be discerning.
Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who is the interpreter between us and God. Through the Holy Spirit we can be sensitive to the leading of God and attune to God enough to understand.
Also, discernment is affirmed on hindsight, in that we can tell if what has come to pass is from God. This is why I think those who are focused on watching for the signs of the "last days" can be so harmful. Not only are they floundering around, believing everything is one of the signs of the apocalypse running around like Chicken Little declaring the skies are falling, they are diluting the importance of the occurrence. There will come a time when the earth shall come to an end, but Jesus himself said that he doesn't know when that will be, so what makes these rapture-theorists think they know better. And what is the purpose? What do they think their sleuthing will accomplish?
Much like the coming of the anointed one of God to a young pregnant woman who would name her child "God with us," it could have happened at anytime, been anyone, happened anywhere. So what are we to do--we who watch and wait, the same as those who watched and waited before. Recognizing in hindsight that this child was something extraordinary--something divine--but living in the moment of the God who is with us always. Living as we are in God's very presence always, for we are.
I do not believe it does any good to get caught up in trying to foretell what the future may bring when there is so much to do to make the here and now happen. There are hungry to feed, naked to clothe, oppressed to liberate, empires to stand up to, and life to be lived. As we watch and wait, let us remember is while we are in the midst of living that we watch and wait for the one who was and is and is to come.