God Inhabits the Ordinary

Are we experiencing God in the ordinary events of our daily lives?

After the baby Jesus was presented in the temple, Luke reports, “When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.”

How ordinary! The Son of God is born of Mary and entrusted to Joseph and her. With the exception of a few humble shepherds and the Magi, people gave them little notice.

Joseph and Mary were practicing Jews who observed the laws and traditions of Judaism. Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day and consecrated to God in the Temple in Jerusalem as was required for first born males of Jewish families.

The Gospels give us few facts about Jesus’ childhood other than the incident when he was 12 and stayed behind in the temple during the family’s annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The likelihood is that Jesus’ early life was very ordinary with Jesus growing up as a young Jewish boy, experiencing all of the things any Jewish boy would have experienced with family and neighbors. They would observe family traditions and the practice of Judaism in a small village. Jesus likely learned his father’s trade of being a carpenter, and was probably a carpenter himself during his early adult years.

God inhabits the ordinary. He did this with Jesus. He inhabited the ordinary in preparation for the extraordinary. He did this with the prophets that went before Jesus. He does this with us. We cannot expect to experience God in the extraordinary if we are not experiencing him in the ordinary.

The ordinary includes the daily commute to work, taking out the trash and helping our children with homework. It includes our daily contact with co-workers, standing in line at the checkout counter and the many choices we make each day, large and small.

Jesus tells us in John 14 that if we love him, the Father and he will come and make their home in us. One of his last words to the disciples was that he will be with us always. He is in us and with us if we choose to act on his presence. As a result, instead of cursing the person who cuts us off on our way to work, we bless him. We show patience to our children in helping them with their homework. We listen to a co-worker who wants to share a problem. We forbear in reacting negatively to an inattentive retail clerk.

Ninety-nine percent of life is ordinary. If we are experiencing Jesus in the ordinary, we are experiencing the kingdom of God, which Jesus says is here and now. When a need or crisis hits we can then experience Jesus in the extraordinary as we pray with a sick friend for healing, bring reconciling words to a troubled relationship or love to a forgotten stranger – anticipating that God will act in and through us.

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