Today’s text is from John 1:19-34.
We are each the center of our own universes. Family, friends, work, play, anxieties, joys, busyness, daily schedules that keep us focused and on task. There may be over seven billion fellow human beings on earth, but often the easiest perspective to see is our own.
Often it’s easy to forget that the person passing on the road or the street, the family we see in the grocery store, the obituary that we read in the newspaper, the wars that we hear about on the news – that each of them are impacting someone else’s universe.
Each of us, our own universe, often passing by every day without gazing to see the star that shines in the middle. This is why it’s helpful to have voices crying out in the wilderness – a voice that says, “Hey, look over here, there’s something you should see.”
Because the presence of God isn’t found only under the trumpet blast and chorus of angels, but also in the humble and lowly.
One week ago we celebrated the birth of our Savior – a savior born in the midst of a family with no place to stay alongside farm animals and strangers. A savior whose birth heralded something new in the world. A birth that signaled that things would be changing – that the status quo would be no more. A birth that was announced to such a degree that you’d think it impossible to not notice their presence.
But apparently that’s been the case. John stands before the people and tells them they should be on the lookout – on the lookout for someone who baptizes with fire and someone whose sandals John isn’t worth to untie.
The baby born in the manger last week has grown up quickly – already three decades along – and apparently God incarnate, God born as both human and divine, God with us, Emmanuel – is as normal as one would expect a carpenter’s son to be.
John tells the people that in their midst – not halfway across the world, not another country, not another city – but right here, right now – is the presence of God. Not as wind, or flame, or earthquake, but as one of us.
And the people have missed it. They haven’t recognized Jesus. They’ve certainly heard God’s voice, seen God’s presence, but in all these years no one has actually recognized it. The people have been the star of their own stories – and somewhere in the background Jesus passed by.
Perhaps as the carpenter who sold you a piece of furniture. Perhaps as the neighbor kid down the street who kept to himself. Perhaps as the person you almost ran into as you went to see family or friends. Perhaps as a person you remember seeing, but just can’t quite place exactly what color shirt they were wearing or who exactly they were with.
“The leaders asked John, ‘What are you doing here if you’re not the Messiah or a prophet? What are you doing out here?’ John replied, ‘There’s someone in your midst that is the Messiah, I’m only here to remind you to look, taste, hear, feel.’”
That’s what the writer of John will attempt to do as we embark on this three-month journey through its pages: Allow all our senses to bear witness to the all-powerful, all-graceful, all-merciful, all-forgiving, all-loving presence of Jesus Christ.
Because in your midst – not halfway across the world, or located in another country, or hidden in another state – but right here, right now, is the presence of Jesus Christ. Not locked away in this building, not found only in bread and wine, but made manifest in plants, animals, water, wind, fire, stillness, night sky, falling snow, the ordinary that surrounds us, and of course, made manifest through you.
Jesus Christ, born so long ago in the city of David, was born for you and is made present to the world through you. Every inch, every corner of creation sings forth this presence of God. For Jesus Christ is never far – God incarnate, God born as one of us – is here this day and always.