Where Are You?

Archpriest Sergei Glagolev

FROM THE BEGINNING of history man has searched for God. Sometimes man searches for God in the strangest things and places. Sometimes man even makes gods out of the things and places of his search. Some men make gods of themselves. Others simply give up and say there is no God.

Upon a few men in history it was given to understand that God is "over" and "beyond" all that.

So some people look for God beyond the reality of things and places, even beyond the reality of people and life itself. It dawned on a few others that the nature of God is such that no matter how much man craves to know Him, only God Himself can reveal to man the reality of His Existence, "on earth, as it is in heaven."

The "Good News" we celebrate on Christmas Day actually begins in the very first book of our recorded Salvation History. The book of Genesis in the Bible tells us that it is man in his fallen state who is hiding from God, trying to be where God is not. And it is God Himself Who is searching man out, calling to the man, "Where are you?" (Genesis 3:9). Of course God knows where man is. The Good News is that God cares where man is and wants to bring us to Himself.

For this reason the Lord has entered into the very history of our time and place, into the very things of our real existence, in a very special way. He chose for Himself a people and made them a nation. He gave them a law and sent them prophets. He visited them with His angels. He gave them a temple and a priesthood and a sacrifice by which they would be His people and He would be their God. This was the Lord’s doing, by which man should know Him and love Him. God is seeking man out. All this is real. Yet man neither knows nor loves God. Man is still where God is not. Where is the Man that God created to know and love Him, in the image and likeness of Himself?

All this was the long preparation for that moment in history when God entered into the very nature of man in order to be where man is. He Himself became perfect Man, yet being God, uniting God and Man in the Person of His Only-begotten Son. In Christ Jesus, man is where God is.

On that first Christmas Day creation beheld a strange and most glorious mystery. That infinity of heaven that is God’s dwelling-place is a cave where Bethlehem. God’s cherubic throne is a young Virgin maiden upon whose breast a little Baby is nursed. And in a manger–a small box holding feed for animals in which Christ is laid–we find the ineffable God Whom nothing can contain. For centuries upon centuries religious people everywhere have searchingly cried out, "What is heaven and Where is God?" Heaven is where God is, and today heaven is on earth, for God visited His people. "God is with us," we sing on Christmas Eve, as we go to the place where God is. "For unto us a Child is born: Unto us the Son is given!"

You say you search for God, and that is good. For the Lord means for you to find Him. He has established a place where heaven and earth meet, where men and angels sing and celebrate Christ’s birth together. Within our own time He means for us to taste of eternity even in the flesh. Even as the fullness of His Divinity was there in the manger with the dumb beasts, so He wills for us to feed on His Divinity in the Bread and Wine by which the Lord Jesus would deign to enter into the manger of our dumb souls and into our soiled bodies. While yet on Earth He would have us ascend to His Kingdom, which is to come, where man in Christ is no stranger to God. More: He would will for us to discover in Christ’s Theophany that the very elements of our earthly lives–water, food and drink, time and space, people and place, are the very means by which God makes Himself known and reconciles all things to Himself.

You say You search for God. The Lord means for you to find Him. "Bethlehem has opened Paradise! Come; let us see for ourselves! We have found the secret! O Joy! Come; let us take possession of heaven that is within the cave. Let us hasten to this place where now is born a Young Child, the pre-eternal God" (from the Hymn of the Christmas Ikos). God has found the time. He has made the place. That Paradise of His Presence is everywhere the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, where the Bread and Wine become Christ’s Body and Blood, where God takes flesh and man partakes of God. You say you search for God. In this time and place it is God Himself Who searches you out, calling you by name, calling out to the man He wants to bring to Himself, saying, "Where are you?"

The Orthodox Church, Vol. 7, No. 10, December 1971.