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April 4, 2018

Denver Day 5, 2018

by carrollministry

There are few things more ordinary than encountering Christ.  Few are blessed with burning bushes or angelic annunciations. While there is nothing wrong with waiting for such grandiose revelations of divinity, in doing so we often run the risk of missing the fact that “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Lk. 17:21).  In our expectation that God manifest Himself in the miraculous, we can overlook his true dwelling place: the normal, the pedestrian, the simple.

This was a lesson we all learned well during this last week with Christ in the City.  The work we did was not spectacular, and the changes we effected are not tangible, yet as we came into contact with those we were servicing, we came face-to-face with Jesus.  Several of us met people this week who exemplified Christ-like joy, peace, and wisdom to an incredible degree (in fact, a handful of our patrons quoted scripture with the ease of biblical scholars).  Indeed, I would say most of us left our conversations more impacted than they. Based on our experience, there is no doubt that as we enter into communion with those discarded by society, we enter into relationship with the Almighty.  “As you did to one of the least of these my, brothers, you did to me” (Matt. 25:40). Beneath the grime and knotted hair of the homeless truly hides the smiling face of Jesus.

We came to understand the unassuming nature of God’s self-disclosure during a hike that took place later in the week as well.  The quiet beauty of nature juxtaposed with the chaos of Denver was breathtaking (even despite the fact that we weren’t in Big Sky Country).  Though impressive, the views we enjoyed never demanded our appreciation. The Creator was present in the mountain air and the dense forestry, but such things are often taken for granted or ignored.  As with the homeless, nature contains and conceals God in plain sight.

Since these examples mean nothing if we are unable to pinpoint the foundational practice in identifying God in the ordinary, I would like to posit such a cornerstone: humility.  If we only allow God to speak to us in specific (i.e. magnificent) ways, then we put God in a box—a great expression of pride. “And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in a cloak” (1 Kg. 20:4).  On the other hand, when we are willing to become broken bread and poured-out wine, we allow ourselves to come into contact with God. Therefore, I believe that we are all thankful for the opportunity that Christ in the City has blessed us with—namely, the opportunity to humbly serve and thereby experience God.  May this lesson—taught by trees and those on the streets—be one that sticks with us long after this week.

John Cooney

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