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Scott Sanders closes our Advent series by celebrating the beauty of diversity, and the opportunity for us to draw near to those God's calls us together with in beauty, generosity and justice.

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Scott Sanders is the CEO of Common Grace.

Today's reading is Psalm 96

I have truly loved this Advent series.

Over the last 25 days we’ve been looking for beauty in the unexpected and listening to our brothers and sisters from different generations, cultures, traditions and denominations as they share their stories and perspectives of where God is working in our world.

We’ve learnt from words inscribed, and words of protest. We’ve had our hearts softened as we’ve walked through humble doors, and welcomed the humble. We’ve cried out for answers, and found grace in the silence. We’ve looked for the angelic, and encountered it through friends. We’ve celebrated new life, been schooled by toddlers and learnt hospitality from young Aboriginal people. Through the grasstree, the campfire and the bandicoot we’ve learnt of strength, welcome and wonder. We’ve found God at the top of a roller-coaster, on the bow of a boat, and in the middle of the sea. We’ve re-discovered carols while singing of a revolution that is marked by vulnerability. We’ve shared baptisms in the Jordan, pursued healing after terror, and found unity in the prophetic.

What an incredible journey it has been to hear so many beautiful, challenging and timely reflections through this season. But there is one more unexpected beauty in all this that I don’t want us to miss.

We each have our own journey, our unique experiences, our personal perspective on who God is and what he is doing in our world. Too often these difference perspectives can divide us. But if we have eyes to see what God is doing in the lives of others around us, we’ll see him at work in beautiful ways. If we can humble ourselves to sit and listen to people who see things differently to us, we may unexpectedly find beauty in their experience and perspective.

Today’s reading invites us together in worship. All peoples, all nations, all the earth, are called to celebrate who God is and what he has done. Today we celebrate what God has done in making himself present amongst us through Christ. He was born not into a position of power but within the margins of society. While unexpected, it was beautiful, as it was a context humanity could deeply and intimately relate to. The God who calls all people together in worship, drew near that we may know him.

His example is a model to us on how we approach one another, with a willingness to draw near that we may hear, know and understand one another, despite our differences. This idea is at the very heart of the Common Grace movement, that as we gather together on common ground we have the opportunity to see the beauty across all of God's creation, to practise generosity as we give to others, and to seek justice for those overlooked on the margins of our society.

So may we be deeply moved by the beauty we discover in people who are different to us, who may have different beliefs or ideologies, may have different experiences or backgrounds. We desperately need more empathy in our society, so let us lead as Christians by moving towards the unexpected places and responding to God’s common grace in the lives of others.

Grace and peace to you and your family this Christmas.

Daily Reading Psalm 96

Praise to God Who Comes in Judgment

O sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
    tremble before him, all the earth.

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
    The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
    He will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12     let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13     before the Lord; for he is coming,
    for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with his truth.

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Join us this December as Common Grace gathers 25 diverse Christians voices together to explore and share in 'Unexpected Beauty' as we journey through Advent.

Unexpected Beauty: An Advent series from Common Grace