Preparing hearts for what lies ahead
Phew! It’s the end of the year at last! As far as I can gather everyone’s tired. People are looking forward to the beach, the cricket, to reading trashy novels and losing the phone (or at least hiding it under a cushion for a while). It’s been an intense and in many ways, a disturbing year, so a few weeks of ‘slow news days’ wouldn’t go astray either. Time to rest, refresh and regroup in peace.
But wait – it’s Advent – time to wake up. It’s time to get ready, to straighten paths and prepare roomy hearts for the Jesus-shaped future that’s coming towards us. There’s a bumper sticker that appears from time to time that says ‘Jesus is coming. Look busy.’ But I’m pretty sure that ‘looking busy’ won’t be sufficient for the transformation that God has planned.
What ‘time’ are we actually in? Is it time to wind down, or time to wind up?
Perhaps re-creation might have something to do with it?
It’s probably a natural tendency to look back over the year, the life, the history and reflect on the highs and lows, the gains and losses over that period. To ask ourselves, how did we do? Did we do well, or not so well? What do we want to carry forward, what do we need to leave behind?
In the beginning, God looked on the work of creation and said that it was good and it was good, it was very, very good. God was pleased, perhaps delighted, with the result. God imagined for that creation and for humanity that was part of it, a flourishing life, a connected life and a life encapsulated in the Hebrew word shalom.
It didn’t always work out like that.
Along the way, God revisited the creation project and did a bit of review and revision or re-creation because the original concept was still so compelling. It may even be that God found re-creation even more delightful and full of amazing possibilities. Possibilities to the extent that God decides to, well, to come get amongst it and to experience at first hand. To be hands on in the eternally unfolding creation or human drama.
Jesus takes the whole history of God and God’s people and says with his life, this is what it looks like walking around. It’s the movement from arms folded, to arms outspread without qualification to embrace the whole creation and all humanity, either chosen or not chosen, special or ordinary and entitled or not entitled.
In the life of Jesus Christ, our appreciation of what it means to be human in relationship with God and with each other is shaped and stretched to the limit. Hearts are prepared and minds are awakened, as Jesus demonstrates what it means to walk the God-talk. This is what captured the disciples and apostles and, in another of God’s re-creative endeavours, eventually brought the church into being.
We are the people called into being to walk the God-talk, to do stuff that makes a Jesus-shaped difference in the world. We are called to live together in heartfelt, hopeful and joyful ways alive in the Spirit of God moving among us, so that people may know the presence and the blessing of God.
So, anticipating re-creation in the holiday season, there are some really important disciplines to prepare our hearts. These are disciplines particular to this time of year. Here’s my version:
- Watching the cricket (well-known contemplative practice)
- Playing on the beach with the grandbaby (an expert in the art of playing)
- Enjoying family (catching up & laughing a lot)
- And, maybe, cleaning out a couple of cupboards (possibly a definite maybe).
Have a blessed holiday. Wind up or wind down as it seems good to you and God will prepare all our hearts for whatever lies ahead.
Rev. Jane Fry
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