I definitely want to continue writing about some of the things we’re learning about evangelism, but it seems best to wait until after Christmas for that. In the meantime, here’s a two-part thought that struck me this morning as I was reading the Daily Office.
God seems to bypass the elite and important and chooses to use very ordinary people to fulfill his purposes for the world, but he doesn’t just choose random ordinary people; he seems to choose ordinary people who have prepared themselves to be used.
In the birth narratives, the rich and powerful are not consulted or even informed about God’s plan. God doesn’t show up in Herod’s palace or Caesar’s dining room. He doesn’t even talk with the leader of the local synagogue. Instead the main characters are an old priest and his childless wife, a young girl and her working-class betrothed, an old man and a widow, and a bunch of Gentile astrologers (or something) from who-kn0ws-where. Ordinary people. Unexpected people.
But it’s interesting to note what they have in common.
- Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.”
- Joseph was “faithful to the law, and did not want to expose [Mary] to public disgrace.”
- Mary is a virgin, pledged to be married, and displays her utter devotion and surrender to God when, after hearing news that would surely earn her the scorn of her friends and neighbors, says. “I am the Lord’s servant… May your word to me be fulfilled.”
- Simeon was “righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.”
- The old widow Anna “never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”
- The Magi were so intent on seeking out the divine that they embarked on a treacherous, months-long journey just so they could offer a newborn king their treasures.
All of these everyday, ordinary people were also faithful people. They were people that God could use because they had prepared themselves to be used. Their daily practices of righteousness had the effect of setting them apart for God’s use, which is what it means to be holy.
Perhaps it’s worth thinking about this final week of Advent: How can you prepare yourself to be used by God? How can you surrender to him and his purposes in a greater way this season? Advent is, after all, a season of fasting and repentance. How are you going to reduce the resistance to God working in and through your life in 2012? Just a little something to think about this week.