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God Showed Up

2010 December 5
by Julie Clawson

Our Advent service at Journey today was all about the unexpected ways God shows up in our lives. We decorated the room in cheezy Christmas decor and played the video to Stephen Colbert’s Another Christmas Song juxtaposed against traditional seating in rows (really odd for my church) and somber hymns. For even in those everyday extremes God shows up in unexpected ways. We told the story of Elizabeth and how God unexpectedly turned her world upside down. The following are some readings and a monologue for Elizabeth that I wrote for the service.

God Showed Up
(to be read by two readers, like slam poetry)

A: Unexpectedly
B: Intrusively
A: Undeniably
B: God showed up
A: In the least likely of places
B: Where no one thought God would ever go
A:God appeared
B: Fear not, I am with you, Be not dismayed
A: For unto you this day is born, a savior
B: A baby
A: A child for the woman who thought she could bear none
B: A child for the girl who was not yet wed
A: A child to change their lives
B: A child to change the world

Elizabeth’s Story

I was, how do I put this nicely, well advanced in years when God showed up. You would think with a priest for a husband that I would be ready for God to appear in my life, but I think God likes to show up where we least expect him.

You see, my husband served in the temple, we were good folk, but that doesn’t mean that I never heard the rumors. The whispered questions wondering how Zechariah could be approved to serve as a priest when God was so obviously withholding his blessing from us. The questions that echoed the cries I had uttered to God for years. Why God can we not have children? Why are we not granted this joy? Eventually my cries had turned to reluctant acceptance. At the age when other women were getting a rest from their labors as daughters and daughter-in-laws assumed the brunt of the day to day chores, I finally had to accept that I would never have what I had spent so many years longing for. That doesn’t mean that my heart didn’t break everyday knowing that the dream was lost to me forever, but I had no choice but to accept that my body had long since passed the point where children were a possibility.

So the last thing I expected was for God to send an angelic messenger to my husband to tell him that we would soon have a child. Thankfully I didn’t laugh out loud like my foremother Sarah did when she heard similar news. But I do admit to a moment, okay, maybe a few moments of incredulity. Me, have a child? At my age? It seemed impossible. But I soon learned that the words “God” and “impossible” don’t go together well. God showed up and turned my world upside down.

I barely knew what to do with myself. How I ached and the confinement nearly drove me crazy, but I rejoiced in every moment of it. This blessing was so unexpected and wonderful at the same time. I think I started even seeing the world differently. When God shows up in such a dramatic way in one area, it was hard to expect God not to show up in similar ways in everyone’s lives. So I think it was this impact of the unexpected blessing of my pregnancy that prompted my exclamation of joy when my cousin Mary showed up for a visit. I took one look at her and felt my babe leap inside me. Out of nowhere I exclaimed, “You’re so blessed among women, and the babe in your womb, also blessed! And why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord visits me? The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears, The babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy. Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!”

I think I scared the poor child. She heard me say those words and immediately burst into tears. It took a while to work it out but apparently God had shown up a bit unexpectedly in her life as well. Young and not yet wed she too was with child. And she was beside herself with fear. She knew she carried the hope of our people inside her, but who in the world would ever believe that the child was of the Lord?

We needed that time together, helping each other see the joy in the unexpected. Sharing in those few months our special bond, a secret that shouldn’t be so secret, but somehow always is – that God can show up in the most unlikely of places. That God can shatter every preconceived notion of how this world should work. That God uses even ordinary folks like us to turn the world upside-down.

Sending Blessing
May God enter your life in unexpected ways. May you see God at work in even the busyness and commercialism of the season. May you always be discovering that your box for God is too small. May you be impregnated with possibilities you never dreamed were possible. May God turn your world upside down. Go in peace and expect the unexpected.


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