Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Advent IV: Conceive

In this final week of Advent, almost upon the inbreaking of Christmas, we conceive of reality in which the Messiah is right here. Imagine the coming of Messiah. Break out of cynicism and pessimism. Challenge yourself and others with the presumption that God is acting and that creation is being drawn into redemption - conceive the re:creation that starts with Jesus and continues with us.  Conceive of a love as genuine, as tangible, and as pervasive as the struggle which we more readily perceive. Let that conception be birthed in your actions.

This is the stuff of faith.... a substantial outworking of what we haven't fully seen yet; the kingdom of God, just within reach.

God calls us to the same radical re-visioning of life to which the people of God have been called throughout Scripture. We are called to "see" through the eyes of God's redemptive story. Mary is told that she will become an unwed mother, and she obediently rejoices. Zechariah hears that he will be a father, contrary to reason and biology, and loses his voice for his unbelief. Joseph moves his family to Egypt on the word of a dream and the trust of his faith. Magi journey to see in flesh the child whom they have glimpsed in the stars.

And the beauty of submitting to the dreams of God is that they become reality.

Some suggestions for action:

  • Give $10 when asked for a quarter by the guy on the street. Imagine that God can change a life with grace.
  • Take lunch with a coworker whom you've written off as "impossible". Imagine that you can appreciate them without antagonism.
  • Imagine an hour without cynicism, skepticism, fear, distrust, or something else that you struggle with.... and then meditate on your feelings within the context of the whole redemptive story of God, and the ultimate hope of new life.
  • Imagine your own action, and post a comment here.
  • read these scriptures and let them shape your imagining: Isaiah 2:1-5, Isaiah 11:1-10, Isaiah 35:1-10.


Mrs. Pivec said...

Some of this imagining is a challenge - but a good one, of course.

We have a man & his wife in our neighborhood who have been vocally rude and just plain mean to most of the people living around this neighborhood. We live in an area that is economically middle class, but situated next to developments that have higher - sometimes much higher - incomes. These neighbors of ours seem to want us to live up to standards imposed upon those other developments with associations and deed restrictions that call for perfectly manicured lawns, everything and everyone looking the same and all ready at all times for a magazine photo shoot.

Because of that, this couple berates and harasses nearly all of the neighbors around them. It is heightened by the fact that they have been trying to sell their home for about a year and a half now and blame most everyone for the lack of sale - even though the market has been dead since about the time they put their house on the market and they are not the only ones whose home is not selling.

My next-door neighbor pastors a (my) church and the couple that has so much anger takes the most it out on him and his family - including two weeks ago nearly purposely hitting the pastor with his truck.

So, the dilemma is this: We continue to pray for this man and his family (they have one daughter, age 11). We have tried being kind... and I wonder what kind of thing to possibly do next. I think often about what the Bible says about not continuing to spend our time on those who do not wish to receive our friendship/love/generosity, etc.

In Matthew, Christ says, "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your works, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town." (7:14)

So, I wonder quite a bit if we are to do anything more. I would like to take them bread or a card or some sort of peace offering, but, given the response in the past, I don't know exactly if this is the best course of action. We could just wait for them to sell their house and leave... That seems to be what we have all been doing. But ignoring them doesn't seem the best action to take either.

I want to imagine a new way, but I don't know quite where to start.

I am realizing that this is not an advice column as I write this! :) I think you have just given voice to some of the things I wish to do, but find so hard. And it makes me sad to think that it has been so difficult to heap on the love that I imagine being able to do.

Thanks for the post. I'm glad to have found the blog and I will be back. :)

God bless,

geoff and sherry said...

hey nicole,
that is a really difficult situation. no glib responses here. grace to you,