In Your Midst
by Karen Huber
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)
I went to church this week, though likely not the one you’re thinking of. Our churches are still closed, but as Christmastide has brought eased lockdowns, I went where I always go when I need a dash of inspiration and hope: I went to the national gallery.
Usually I’m one for Yeats’ textured Irish scenes or the romantic European landscapes, but this time I went straight for the Caravaggio, the sacred works, the strange and otherworldly depictions of biblical stories. And I was drawn to a portrait I hadn’t taken much notice of before.
Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”) by Titian.
I stood frozen in front of this 16th century Venetian oil painting. This portrait is not perfect: changes in the artist’s rendering have been exposed over time, so you can see where he first placed the reeds and the ropes. And Christ’s eyes are downcast, unable to connect with the viewer. But I was compelled, overcome with relief and longing, crying,
I miss Jesus.
This year I have missed His presence so deeply, despite knowing He is always here in us and in His Word. But I miss His voice in the words of my brothers and sisters, I miss the unity of the Spirit in corporate worship, I miss being physically held by His witnesses on this earth.
This longing, this cry, caught me by surprise—like missing one’s child even though they’re asleep in the next room. I could go in and wake her up at any moment, but the baby, the toddler, even the tween has changed. We have all been changed. I miss who we were together, and I long for a reunion of oneness, of communion, with one another and with our Jesus.
Advent is filled with this longing, this anticipation, this sorrow for silence. We know He is coming – I know it – but I forget He is already here.
God with us. God with me.
God with me in our little 5-person-in-pyjamas house church. God with me in a text message or email from a friend. God with me in Titian’s interpretation of the crucified Christ. Abiding with us now.
Yours in and with Him,
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20 (NIV)
- What does your fellowship with God and His Church look like right now? What gift has this season given you? What has been a struggle?
- Where do you feel the presence of Christ in your life, right now? And if you struggle to pinpoint it, be creative. He is there!