Advent was all about anticipation, the waiting for an event. In this case the event is Christmas, always happy and merry. So the anticipation becomes exciting; the build-up and waiting laced with fun. This is one wait that is guaranteed to end with delight. Today, Christmas was yesterday. The hangover is heavy but we try to stretch the season for another week but an anti-climactic feel begin to creep in.
The proximity of the New Year to Christmas can have a dampening effect. It used to be a double-header. But the human mind is smarter now, it thinks ahead peeping into the New Year. Where there was once new hope, today there is new anxiety. We now live in a pressure cooker. The New Year re-starts the cycle of anxiety from the fear of losing out. Anticipation become expectations; we must do well in our jobs, our children must do well in school.
Let’s go back to Christmas. Hidden beneath all the revelry, all the wrong reasons for the season, is a gift for us. Let’s go even further to those who are now sensitive to the idea of religion where we cannot say “Merry Christmas” but instead “Happy Holidays”, this gift awaits them too. This gift is “Emmanuel, God is with us”. There is no condition tied to this gift, it is given freely to everyone, not only for believers but also for the ones who cannot bring themselves to mention the Infant Child.
“God is with us” is not for accepting or rejecting. It does not reduce or increase his dwelling among us, if you believe or not. He is present. He is with us. Period.
Life is never meant to be a merry carnival. It can be an emotionally treacherous journey through experiences. “God is with us” to accompany us through this journey; his unconditional love a balm always available to soothe our pains, his infinite wisdom a footprint to follow. God is not in advent, he isn’t anticipating our belief. God anticipates the storms ahead of us in life, he dwells with us to try to pull us into his shelter.
God does not wait for tomorrow to act for us. God is not finished with us because he acted for us yesterday. God acts in the now, in each moment He is present. “God with us” means that. All these moments link yesterday to today to tomorrow. God is also proactive as he anticipates and he moves ahead to show us the way. To make his dwelling among us visible we can retrace events that happened to us, people we have met, angels disguised as strangers, things we have done, things done to us, and link everything together.
These often occur in simple day to day situations. We may get a prompting to write and apply for another job. We do not feel a need for a new job but unexplainably we apply anyway. Then events unfold to put our present job in danger. We get a positive reply for a new job before the storm hit to cause us to lose our current job. That “prompting” is God with us.
Our daily life is filled with such little God moments. These “God moments” are when “God with us” becomes visible to us. It is provoked by a love action or a love thought, a feeling of care or being cared for. They are found even in the very simple insignificant event in daily life, like a smile from a stranger. These are fleeting moments but enough to connect our earth to our heaven.
Let’s reclaim the gift that is Christmas and rediscover the present; this moment by moment when God is with us. Emmanuel.
Day after Christmas