There are puddles outside, making funny reflections of this strange winter season. It was 50 degrees yesterday and today it is 48 in the Big Apple. These rainy days are making me want Spring to come, and soon. I'm getting hungry for buds and blooms and the kind of wet earth that makes things grow. I'm getting homesick for the time of year when things come alive, up out of the dead ground.
But right now, it is Epiphany season.
We flipped the church calendar after Christmas. After all the wrapping gets stuffed away and all the toys get shoved in corners and under beds. We move on and push forward and just get by until there is something new to celebrate by breaking our routine and budget once again.
But right now, it is Epiphany season.
When Jesus came as a baby, his life was not as short as a birth. His presence was not an event, simply celebrated inside paid holidays. He slept and awoke and ate and drank and loved and walked and served and ... well, he lived. His presence spanned from his first breath to his last gasp - and all the physical life lived in the flatlands in between.
That is what we are celebrating in Epiphany: Christ came and lived with us - next to us in a real house, in a real city, on the real ground of this world.
And it is Epiphany season in the flatlands.
The good news of God's presence is that He was not surprised at the weight of the incarnation. He didn't plan for an early exit once He realized just how bad things had gotten down on earth. His days were marked with human chronology. His heart beat with human rhythm.
In the middle of a wayward world, Christ was not ashamed to know and be known by the neighbors, the neglected, the friends, and the frightened ones. He was present.
What crazy news we carry around with us in the flatlands! Christ chose [and chooses] to be present inside human chronology and present inside human rhythm. He is not ashamed to call us His children, not ashamed to rescue the lost. He is not ashamed to reach down and mend the ways we've been broken and the ways we break others. He is not ashamed to say, "You are mine." The God of the universe was not ashamed to claim my eternity for heaven on the cross and He is not ashamed to cover my life with His presence on earth.
We have the most supreme delight in a gift that is never completely unwrapped, never completely old news, never completely discovered.
We have this delight in the presence of Jesus at our breakfast table and in our daily commute and at the laundromat and at pancake Mondays and at the Saturday night party. Sometimes the delight feels like a fight and other times it feels like free tickets to our favorite destination. But, all the time Jesus is present and all the time His presence never runs out.
I'm learning to practice presence.
I am learning to be present, in the name of the One who is not ashamed of me. That's what I read on Sunday night in my evening reflection and it was fitting because I needed a lesson on presence before Pancake Mondays could get filled with anxiety. Spurgeon wrote,
"Seek in the name of Him who was not ashamed of you - to do some little violence to your feelings, and tell to others what Christ has told to you. If you cannot speak with trumpet tongue, use the still small voice. If the pulpit must not be your tribune, if the press may not carry your words on its wings - yet say with Peter and John, "Silver and gold have I none - but such as I have, I give you.""
It sounds dramatic to do violence to my feelings, but it really is necessary sometimes. Christ's presence is a fact that changes everything, no matter what the colors of my current emotional state. When my anxiety and fears and insecurities are pushed aside, I am free to live like Christ's presence is a game changer for my identity and the most important gift I can give to every person in my day. This is how we celebrate Christ's presence - not like an elephant in the room, but more like a chocolate fountain. It is what excites us, thrills us, animates us, and motivates us to delight.
I've rambled enough for a post-work/pre-evening post. Go out and get present with someone tonight - get kindred and conversational with someone. Neglected and/or neighbor, friend and/or frightened - go out and get present.
Go out and get present because Christ is not ashamed to be present with you.