"If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?" - Acts 11:17
How often, when standing at the crossroads of hope and fear, have you let your cold feet keep to the safest path? How many times have you gotten the signals crossed, thinking God's life-changing word was for someone else? How many possibilities have you rejected, thinking this is all there is?
When called to love someone different or expand your understanding of God, have you, like the apostle Peter, said, "Absolutely not! That's against my religion!"?
Thank God the Spirit is not so easily put off. When God comes she pulls out all the stops and works every angle to reach our small, scared, or inattentive hearts.
For all we know, God had been trying to get the everyone's-in message to Peter for some time. Finally, after a disturbing dream, the seemingly random appearance of strangers, a holy green light, and an encounter with a would-be believer, Peter cannot help but connect the dots. He has to acknowledge that God has been made manifest yet again, and he understands he'd best get out of the way.
This is the good news of Advent: that even when we close the doors of our hearts, Jesus will keep knocking. That when we bar the door and disconnect the bell, Spirit will build a window. That when we're not paying attention, God sometimes plays the drama queen.
But why miss today's dose of life abundant?
Watch: Looking everywhere for God's love. Listen: For the ever-freshness of the good news. Show up: With all your heart. Follow: Though you know not where this new life will lead you.
Who are you to hinder God's advent here?
Whatever it takes, Lord Jesus, come into this world again with your ever-expansive love. And may I not get in the way.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.