December 24, 2020
written by Patrick Lafferty
Adoration is a Miracle
Text: 1 Peter 1:8, 9
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Can you remember a time when we’ve had so much collective scrutiny applied to us? Every view, every comment, every decision--no matter if we solicited public analysis--comes under a shining, searing light of evaluation.
True, these are the most uncommon of times. True, our choices have wide-ranging consequences, of which the long-term effects we can still scarcely see.
But with all the “input” coming from every angle, is not one clear and present effect the gnawing, internal question: “Am I doing it wrong?”
For these weeks of Advent we’ve fixed our attention on adoration. We’ve heard and seen and prayed the reflections of our GMR family for the sake of recovering in this fractious and fragile time a sense of His beauty and glory--the grasping of which would lead anyone to adore.
Yet even with Christmas now upon us, is it possible we ask ourselves, perhaps quietly, “am I doing it wrong?” If knowing Him is to adore Him, and yet the inner sense of being endeared to Him feels so fleeting, then am I like the dance partner with two left feet who, try as he might, just can’t find the steps to that elusive elegance? Is the joy of adoration a thing for other people, or only an illusion?
Allow me to remind you of a fact perhaps lost in the shuffle. In each sermon text we’ve considered, with each example of someone bowing at the feet of Jesus in adoration, they didn’t go looking for adoration. It came and found them. He came and found them. Magi, Mary, a prostitute, a leper--none decided that day to go seeking joy. None had planned to be so captivated by what they came into the presence of that they had no choice but to bow. They were simply attending to what was before them. And then they were surprised to find themselves overwhelmed by Him in ways beyond words.
Near the end of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Professor Kirche offers an important corrective to the Pevensie children’s thinking about Narnia--namely, about their access to it:
And that would have been the very end of the story if it hadn't been that they felt they really must explain to the Professor why four of the coats out of his wardrobe were missing. And the Professor, who was a very remarkable man, didn't tell them not to be silly or not to tell lies, but believed the whole story. "No," he said, "I don't think it will be any good trying to go back through the wardrobe door to get the coats. You won't get into Narnia again by that route. Nor would the coats be much use by now if you did! Eh? What's that? Yes, of course you'll get back to Narnia again someday. Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don't go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don't try to get there at all. It'll happen when you're not looking for it. And don't mention it to anyone else unless you find that they've had adventures of the same sort themselves. What's that? How will you know? Oh, you'll know all right. Odd things they say - even their looks - will let the secret out. Keep your eyes open. Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?"
Joy and adoration--like Narnia--is a thing highly prized, worth inhabiting. One ought not simply give up on ever accessing it.
But one ought not also pretend one can find it simply by following a few mechanical steps, or walking the identical route that once yielded a taste of it.
Instead one might do as Paul instructs his fellow believers in Thessalonica. To do as they’d been taught: to love one another--“to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands. . . “ (1 Thess 4:10,11)
So attend to what’s before you, my friends. Love and serve those nearest you, and the ones who come across your path. Do right by what’s entrusted to you.
And while beauty is like something that comes upon you, like coming around a bend on the Parkway to see a vast and glorious vista, do not fail to let your eyes and ears feast upon beauty. For beauty is the handmaid of adoration. And adoration is nothing short of a miracle.
Merry Christmas, Beloved. You’re not doing it wrong.