Sometimes we cannot see the God who is right in front of us, hidden in plain sight.
• The religious leaders did not see it.
• The people did not know it.
• The tax collectors and the census takers, the family members, and the travelers, burdened by daily life and decrees, could not see beyond the crushing demands of the day.
But God was there—in love, in angels, in stars, and in baby smiles. God was present in loyal love that stood strong beyond scandals, in life that pushed through regardless of grime, and in joy that was felt, in spite of a jerry-rigged cradle.
God was making an entrance in plain sight fulfilling a promise: a Messiah is born, God in flesh and bone—in the very place the Scripture foretold—Bethlehem in the land of Judah. Yet, God is hidden in plain sight. No one noticed except a few shepherds who had to return to their sheep—and no one listened to shepherds anyway.
Who does God use to bring the revelation of a Savior—the recognition that the long-awaited Messiah has arrived?
• Does it come from the wealthy and powerful?
• From kings and leaders?
• From the religious and devout?
• From the prophets and sages of their own faith?
No. None of them can see the God who is born among them, hidden in plain sight.
The revelation of the Messiah comes from foreigners. From Persians, Iranians, and Saudi Arabians. The epiphany of who this baby truly is comes from priests and practitioners of Zoroastrianism, an ancient, pagan and foreign religion. From scientists who study the stars. They see clearly what God is doing—where and how —and they go on journey to be part of it.
Have you ever wondered why scientific foreigners of another religion know what God is doing when the people who serve and follow this God do not?
God seems willing to go pretty far to get the message across to the people that their Savior is born--that God loves them so much, God chose to become like them.
It is radical news. In our Ephesian passage, Paul talks about bringing the good news of Christ out into all the world, a light to the Gentiles.
But Matthew reverses this direction with Magi: the world is bringing the message of God to Israel. God will go to any length, use anyone in the world, to share God’s yearning to communicate—to love us and to save us – even other religions, scientists, foreigners, travelers, star-gazers, dreamers.
Would you believe foreigners, star-gazers, dreamers, Zoroastrians, scientists, travelers, or for that matter, shepherds, angels, unwed mothers, foolish loyal husbands-to-be? Will you believe them when God uses them to point out God’s presence and love and grace for you this year?
The magi invite us to be mindful of the things we are tempted to write off—be they foreigners or immigrants, recent science, a dream, neighbors of a different faith, the words of a child, the movement of nature, the timing of a song, the kindness of a stranger.
The Magi want us to be open to every way that God might show up—and God shows up in so many different ways in the Bible!
wrestling, hardship, healing, resurrection, hospitality, fire, storms, voices, clouds, mountains, foreign powers, metaphors, prophets, teachers, light, the poor, parables, songs, poetry, inner wisdom, bread, water, pregnancy, children, visions, rocks, silence, fish, and more! (I could go on, but we have burritos after church!)
When we open our minds, tune our thoughts and refresh our eyes for “God-sightings” or God-winks” we begin to notice them everywhere—Here’s a few I have noticed lately---
• The shape of the back of a tow-truck is a cross,
• An unexpected call from an old friend yesterday
• A church member who helped another member while I was on vacation last week
• The young man at the Target checkout right before Christmas, who was ready to go home, and his light was off and I was too tired to notice, and checked me out anyway.
• the bird singing in the tree near my parking space at Kroger
• A homeless person with a sign on the street corner asking God to bless me.
• My sister asked for guidance on a big decision and heard the words of a song at just the right moment that confirmed a future direction
• And these don’t even count the family time over the holiday.
Being open to new God-sightings is to trust the God that cannot be controlled, predicted, packaged, boxed into familiar categories.
God’s love and presence incarnate in Jesus Christ, exists in every person, and all of creation all around us, hidden in plain sight. God uses unlikely and unexpected ways to show Godself to us, shaking the blinders from our eyes so we can see God clearly—as easily as we can see negativity.
Yes, we are all weary of the pandemic. But remember that God’s love never wears out, never runs out, and never wearies of us. God’s love is never weary—there’s always more than enough for us.
Whatever chaos is happening around us, whatever difficulty is unfolding, whatever the pandemic is doing, whatever policy or judgement the current administration or supreme court is or is not enacting—here is what informs our daily life:
• love is always flowing from the manger;
• grace is always pouring from the cross;
• life is always bursting from the tomb—
• Spirit’s power is always available here and now
Look! See! Come! Join the magi on the journey to be a part of God’s life showing up, hidden in plain sight. Receive God’s love, always present with you in Jesus Christ, follow his light and share his love.