Isaiah 9: 1-6; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 2: 1-14
Saint John Baptist de LaSalle December 25, 2023
Some people like to camp outdoors, including in the dead of winter. I am one of those people, or at least I used to be. As a teenager and well into my late twenties, I used every excuse I could to go camping, at least for a few days at a time and especially in the winter, the more snow the better. Today it’s a bit different for me, although I don’t mind going for a walk in the woods during the daytime, but at night, I prefer the comfort of my home over a lumpy sleeping bag.
While I used to camp out by choice, it came as a bit of a shock to see that there are people right here in North Wilkesboro who are camping out all year round simply because they have no home to go to. Our towns do have low-cost places for people to stay, there is a men’s shelter and a women’s shelter, along with some subsidized housing, but this type of housing does not provide space for everyone who wants shelter. When I see people living in makeshift shelters, I can only imagine how dreadful tenting in winter would be for people who are accustomed to warmer climates.
Last week I saw a man and a woman, walking along 268, wearing shorts and flip flops when it was 40 degrees outside, pushing a shopping cart with all their stuff in it. What is our God, who tents among us, asking of us in this moment? I do know this, God not only lives among us, but God also visits with us. Paul tells his friend Titus this in his letter. Through the Baptism of New Birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit God comes to visit us. This Spirit, Paul says, is lavished on us through Jesus Christ.
God also visits people because he is merciful and loves people. God visits people because he wants to spend time with them. Christmas is a celebration of all the past visits of God, and it is the hope of future visits. Christmas also urges us not to get stuck in a tent, in a temple, in a crib, or in baptism, but to look forward so as not to miss God's future visits with us.
A trip might be a good opportunity for God to visit with us. God does visit people on ships, in airplanes, on trains, cars, and buses. On a trip we are often renewed, made to feel good, and this enables us to see things in a new way. On a trip we have the opportunity to be visited by God. God may visit us in His Word as we hear and respond to it. In bread and wine, we may be visited by God. He may visit us in the quiet or the storm of the sea. God may visit us in the sun or in the clouds.
New friends, conversation, new activities, and new places to visit may be or may already have been occasions for God to visit with us. We cannot always say how and when God will visit with us. We do know, however, that Christmas is always happening, all the time. God is always visiting His people. No one expected God to visit his people and to live in a tent. No one expected God to take up housekeeping and to move into the temple in Jerusalem. And a visit by God, in the person of Jesus, in Bethlehem was, likewise, totally unexpected. However, and whenever God may visit us is always unexpected. But such visits are always happening. Christmas happens all the time, for we are happily loved by God. Yes, we are visited by God, often, and when we least expect it.