Spotting Jesus: Advent 9

Though it’s technically December 10 in Slovakia, I flew to the U.S. this morning so it’s been a long December 9 for me!  Despite the fact that I’ve been tired, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for Jesus.  Funny thing is, when you keep your eyes open for Jesus, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find him.

Today I found Jesus on the airplane from Vienna to Washington.  When my neighbor sat down I could tell she was very nervous, and she remained that way for much of the nine-hour flight.  I never figured out what made her so nervous… it turns out she was from Kosovo, and spoke no English.  I wished that I could talk to her, to help her calm down.  I also wished I could hear her story – what was bringing her to the U.S., and on to Texas.  As I helped her fill out her customs form, I got the sense she was moving here for some time, perhaps to live with family.

We had no profound discussion, just the simple kinds of conversations you have when you only have your hands and a few shared words.  I showed her that I was writing a story, and she commented on some sketches I made.  We chuckled together at a couple of things on our screens, and shared a quiet smile as a nearby passenger raised an unnecessary fuss over a delay.

The thing is, I needed this woman.  I was nervous, too, in my own way – about leaving Tanya and the girls for a week, about my trip.  But connecting with her gave me a sense of peace I cannot explain – the kind of connection that we make when we turn our attention outside ourselves.

Why did I find Jesus here, and not somewhere else?  Jesus never rode an airplane, of course.  But Jesus did find himself in situations from time to time that required a calm word, a gentle smile.  And I often think of his encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria – an unscripted moment, a shared conversation that turned into so much more.

I hope and pray that you can find Jesus this week – look for unscripted moments of grace, a chance to give an unnecessary smile or an encouraging word.  You might be surprised at the doors that open up.

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