Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3, Common English Bible)
Do you remember P. D. Eastman’s book Are You My Mother? The little bird hatches out of her egg and begins searching for her mother. She walks right past the mother bird because she does not recognize her or know what she looks like. She proceeds to ask all kinds of different animals and such asking, “Are you my mother?”
We can identify with the little bird. There are times and moments in our lives when we search for Jesus. We don’t recognize him. We may walk right past him, not even knowing it is him.
Like John in Matthew 11, life can take an unexpected turn. For John, he was imprisoned, and in his way asks, “Are you my Jesus?” For us, we may be imprisoned in our addictions. Imprisoned in our fussing. Imprisoned in disease. Imprisoned in our busyness. Or perhaps we are imprisoned by the holiday.
And so we wander from here to there asking, “Are you my Jesus?” We are hungry for freedom. We are hungry for relief. We are hungry for grace.
The little bird’s story has a happy ending. The little bird finds her mother.
Advent is that time where we wait and in the waiting we train our eyes to see the Christ in our midst. The Christ that we might have walked right past without knowing it. The phone call from a friend checking in on us. A hug at that right moment. The person offering us a way out of our imprisonment.
One of the lessons of Advent is that the holy is in the ordinary. Christ is in that hug. Christ is in that phone call. Christ is in the person offering us a way out of our imprisonment.
And when we open our eyes and see Christ in the ordinary – in others – we like the little bird can proclaim, “I know who you are!”