I’m not a real big “birthday celebration” girl. For my most recent birthday my, children and grandchildren gathered together on Zoom to connect and celebrate. It's funny how well the 18 of us have learned to take turns when speaking and appropriately know how and when to mute, especially when the dogs are barking!
Connecting with my children was all I wanted for my birthday. Then they did something extraordinary. My adult children and grandchildren gave me the greatest gift for a 2020 year. They gave me hope. It was a gift that was something new, life-giving, and would give joy today with the promise of tomorrows. They purchased a young tree in my honor to be planted in my beloved town of Marion. The City of Marion lost over 75% of their trees in the derecho but there is now one new tree planted for the generations to come.
In the everyday storms of life and especially in the big ones like a derecho, elections, protests, on-line school and work, illness, loneliness, separation, and I would say weariness, my children had grabbed on to a message of hope. They made clear their faith in the promise that our God is a creating God. Our God has been, is, and will be present in our lives. Planting a tree becomes our response to a 2020 world of chaos. It reminds us to hold on and hear this message that our God is not lost, quiet, or “sitting on the sidelines.” No, our God is in the thick of our lives creating and growing with us. We hear hope, faith, and love in the sounds of children, in the changing of the seasons, in the cards we receive from grandparents, on walks when we see the migration of birds, or squirrels planting acorns, all of life in preparation for what is ahead…life-everlasting.
We are encouraged to be ready as the Gospel of Matthew 25:1-13 reveals. We take notice, a new kind of notice of God’s presence in our past, present, and in our future. Our God who knows our hurt, disappointment, anger, and yes, our joy, is with us.
Our response? We actively join in worship that looks and feels new to us, but is faithful. God has seen worship continue to change over the centuries and generations. We study and pray via Zoom, Google, or gather outside at bonfires, safely masked and distancing from one another as an act of love for our neighbor. Together, we grow in our awareness and faith in a God-sized message of hope.
We give way and hang on to the invitation that, even as we experience chaos, fear, illness, and loss, we trust in the God of all creation to create and to reveal to us the endless gift of grace. We prepare our hearts to be open to possibilities, opportunities and yes, joy. We take up God’s call for our lives to be the light in the darkness!
I have some challenges for you to consider and be prayerful about in your decision-making. Ready? Life application time (also known as Get Back to the Basics) so we can take notice of God creating something new!
Re-engage in a worshipful life. Our community, the communities across the nation, and beyond need all people of all ages to participate fully in communities of faith. We are to be people who are humble, act with mercy, and rejoice in the gift of grace.
Envision the upcoming holidays on what you could do this year because you have permission to do something totally NEW! In our household, we’re talking about the realities we won’t be able to travel. We may not be able to gather together; we won’t need to have such a huge spread of food. What if we take all of that money we would have spent and donate it to the food pantry? Think about it…a 2020 memory that will stand out!
Trusting in the abundance of God's grace, what will be our response to a one of a kind 2020 year?