Sunday, 12 December 2010
By Mandy at Jesus Needs New PR
If you ask any of us what we need most this holiday season, I can almost guarantee that most of us would say, “time.” We need time to shop, time to clean, time to cook, time to think, time to make, time to waste, time to wrap, time to deck, time to work, time to look for work, time to sing, time to worship, time to travel, time to see our family and friends, time to eat, time to sleep, time to breathe. Time is the most valuable commodity, and we live in a world where time has no economy. We can’t bank it, save it, or store it. It will pass regardless of what we do.
So, how then do we fill this time when it passes so quickly away from us? We must pass it with purpose.
The prologue to the Gospel of John is my favorite scripture passage because it captures the depth of God’s love and purpose for creation. It begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” God has a strange sense of time, no? For God, time is eternal, never-ending, expansive. So, for God, time has no need of being bartered or saved, because God is in time. This passage speaks to the “Word” and God’s being. This “Word” is not a simple uttered voicing of language, but the λόγος (Logos), the divine principle of reason that gives order to the universe and links humanity with God. When we consider that God created all things – from the smallest atom to the largest universe and everything in between– it all began simply with a breath from God. Whether you understand the Bible literally or more figuratively, we can agree that creation began as a “formless void.” How, then, did all of heaven and earth come to be from primordial chaos?
Simply… with a Word.
All of creation did not come to be in a day, but over the course of God’s own time. For God, time does not pass with a sense of urgency, but in tandem with the events that unfold. In fact, it is the unfolding of these events that define time, not the other way around. In these weeks, is it possible for us to consider that what we do has purpose and fits together to the larger plan of our lives?
As a knitter, I begin my projects with a single act: tying a knot. From that single knot, a whole connected flourish of yarn becomes something more than its individual parts of wool and sticks. It becomes a hat, a scarf, or (with a great amount of time and a modest amount of frustration) a whole sweater.
We have to start somewhere, don’t we? We cannot become deeply reflective spiritual beings in an instant. But, we can begin small. We come to church. We pray. We listen. We read the Bible. And, over the course of God’s time (not ours), we find that we are becoming something more than our individual actions. We are becoming church. We are interwoven into the community. We find ourselves in the scriptures – which are no longer stories about something else, but about our own salvation. Christ becomes not a baby in a manger or a man on a cross, but a living savior who has lived and died that we might know God’s love in the most visceral and human of ways. This season, let us remember that time is not ours to barter or save. Let us live in it, fully, and find God in the smallest parts of our lives that we might be present to accept the greatest gift we can receive: God’s love in Christ.
Mandy Sloan Flemming serves as the Minister of Christian Education and Spiritual Formation at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Atlanta, GA and is wife to Matthew Flemming, who teaches preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary. This year, their oldest son started kindergarten, their middle son began Pre-K, they welcomed a beautiful baby girl and Mandy was ordained as an Elder in Full Connection in the UMC. She also made dinner one night, completely from scratch.