The Voice We Can’t Always Recognize

Ken Eriks

Read: John 1:19-34

Among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me. (vv. 26-27)

I am always grateful for the familiar parts of this season. For our family, that includes putting up the Christmas tree, decorating the house, reading an Advent devotional, and sitting in front of the Christmas tree in the dark at night in peaceful anticipation. At church it includes the lighting of the Advent candles of hope, love, joy, and peace; enjoying the exuberance of children in the Christmas program; and being caught up in the joy of the Christmas Eve candlelight services—especially the midnight Communion.

There is comfort in the familiar traditions of the season, but John reminds us that there is also danger. “Among you stands one you do not know.” Christmas is not just about a cute baby. It’s about the mystery of God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, taking up residence among us and shattering former ways of thinking about God.

The danger in clothing this miraculous God-event in familiar customs and traditions is that we begin to think of God as safe and familiar, a doll we hold, and then tuck safely into a Nativity scene. “Among you stands one you do not know.” God is always surprising us, always going beyond what we expect, and always taking the world unaware. John’s voice reminds us that Jesus disrupts and changes lives, and that change may not be a safe, comfortable change. —Ken Eriks

Prayer: God of both mystery and intimacy, never tire of surprising us with new ways to know you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.