God's Unlawful Entry
It's Christmas, and one of my favorite comic strip characters, Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes, is fussing about Christmas. Says Calvin to Hobbes, "I don't understand this thing about Santa Claus. Why all the secrecy? Why all the mystery? I mean if the guy really exists why doesn't he just show himself and settle it once and for all? And of course if he doesn't exist than what is the meaning of all this?" "I don't know" squirms Hobbes, "but isn't this supposed to be a religious holiday?" "Yeah" sighs Calvin "but actually I have the same sort of questions about God!"… And don't some of us? Ponder with me the questions children ask about Santa Claus, turn them inside out, allow them to incubate and are they not the same kind of questions you and I have about God... How, When & Where will Santa come? How, When & Where will GOD come?
Use your imagination with me for just a moment. Pretend that your best friend is moving to a distant city. It's your last night together. You've planned a very special evening. You want this to be one of those nights you will never forget. But you're having trouble getting yourself into the mood for the evening, a kind of cloud hangs over your soul. And finally you speak that which has gone unspoken, you turn to your friend and say: "WHEN will I see you again? Will I EVER see you again? When will you come back?" And imagine your friend, with just a trace of an impish grin on their face, say "well I don't think I'm going to answer that question for you. I think I'll just pop up sometime, unexpected, without warning, like a thief in the middle of the night."… And suddenly you and I find ourselves plump in Matthew's Gospel Chapter 24. The key to that chapter is the third verse where Jesus is with his disciples. It's their last time together and finally one of the disciples asks what everyone has been wanting to ask. He whispers: "Jesus, WHEN will we see you again? WILL we see you again? How will we know when you will be coming again?"… And looking those disciples square in the eye, Jesus simply says "I'm not going to answer that question for you. I'm only going to tell you that I'll pop up without warning, unexpectedly, like a thief in the middle of the night."….. Check out the rest of the story in Matthew 24 for yourself - “if the head of the house had known what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect him." (Vs.43-44)
In reading that verse, something strikes me. Have you ever thought of God as burglar? When you begin to ponder, it starts to make sense. Isn't that how God came the first time around, this divine break-in we call Christmas. It happened in the middle of the night, without warning, unexpectedly. God, making a kind of unlawful entry, NOT coming to “rob us” but coming to save us!!! When I've listened to people share their faith journeys, it’s not unexpected to hear about a God who travels vertically, moving into our lives from the outside in, from the topside down, catching us without warning, by surprise. Quite candidly, when I look at my life there's a whole trail of divine interventions that have left fingerprints and footprints I can't explain. But in tracking them I can only conclude that there is a God who likes to do the unexpected, a God who likes to surprise us. As Jesus said, "if the head of the house had known what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert….for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect him." And so I say to Calvin and to the rest of us - to have the spirit of Advent and Christmas means simply, we try to live every day open and alert to the mysteries of God's surprises!