The Unlikely Divine

I’ve been subscribing to the Daily Meditation newsletter from HenriNouwen.org for about a month now. Each day, I receive an email from the Henri Nouwen society that contains one or two paragraphs from Nouwen’s writings.

The tid-bits that are sent to my inbox each morning are very thoughtfully selected, life-filled reflections on faith and on the mission of God in the world.

Today’s email was particularly striking to me:

Our faith in God who sent his Son to become God-with-us and who, with his Son, sent his Spirit to become God-within-us cannot be real without our faith in the Church. The Church is that unlikely body of people through whom God chooses to reveal God’s love for us. Just as it seems unlikely to us that God chose to become human in a young girl living in a small, not very respected town in the Middle East nearly two thousand years ago, it seems unlikely that God chose to continue his work of salvation in a community of people constantly torn apart by arguments, prejudices, authority conflicts, and power games.

Still, believing in Jesus and believing in the Church are two sides of one faith. It is unlikely but divine!

I’m not quite sure what to make of all of this business about “faith in the Church,” but lately I have been increasingly astonished by the amazing truth that Nouwen points toward in these two paragraphs: God chooses to DWELL in imperfect, fragile, sometimes stubborn and even prideful, human vessels – and to use those vessels to act on His behalf in this world.

Equally striking was Nouwen’s discussion of the “unlikely divine.” I wonder: how often have I been surprised to find a divine indwelling in the most unlikely of places? A child. A mentally challenged individual. A tatoo-covered drummer with his hands lifted to the sky as he and his band prepares to lead a group in worship. A quiet, unassuming couple that turns out to to be quietly going about the work of the kingdom – some of the most generous people I’ve ever known.

Funny thing, the Kingdom is. Sometimes you have to look very carefully, but when you do, it shows up in the strangest places.

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