Growth. It can be an exciting word – one we may think of with summertime, fruits and vegetables and flowers growing all around. Perhaps a seemingly unending thing – within those gardens weeds continue to spring forth, sometimes seemingly faster than the plants you want! For some, I am aware it can be a scary word – growth in places you don’t want, too many cells, a mass, a cancer. For others it can be a gradual and profound thing – children and youth discovering their gifts and growing into who they are called to be. And, it can be a completely new thing – a gift, a child growing within its mother.
It is amazing and curiosity-provoking and awe-inducing to think about how this one word covers the breadth and depth of life. This one word, all a reminder that each of us and all of creation is held in God’s hand. Whether you are tending your gardens, feeding the birds, or caring for your pets as you participate in tending God’s creation, whether you are in the midst of the important work of raising your children or grandchildren or helping to nurture those around you, whether you are on a hard walk of sickness or fear or accompanying someone on it, or whether you are one in the stages of preparation and excitement for new life – God holds each of us. God knows each hair on our head and calls us by name.
While my husband and I prepare for a baby to be born in mid-January, we are looking forward in excited anticipation (and the occasional fear and trembling) to this new growth, this blessing, this child. As we look at the world around us, I cannot help but think of how we, as people of faith in Christ, are called to act differently. I think to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and then being in exile as they are held by neighboring nations. Amidst the uncertainty I can imagine they felt in the day to day, they continued to have children, they continued (for the most part) to remain faithful to the God of Israel. For, amidst the seeming uncertainty, they held to the promise God had given. The promise that the descendants of Abraham would be blessed, that all would be blessed through them, and that they would return to the promised land. While in the midst of the unimaginable, they continued to act in hope.
Reading the news, I cannot help but think about how we, as Christians, are called to act. Each in our different spheres and with our different gifts, but we’re called to live into the hope that Christ brings. The powers of sin and death have been defeated in Christ. Yes, they still linger, we still see their path, yet, we live knowing that, through Christ, God has brought in the new kingdom, we live in the now and not yet.
How are we called? To tend gardens? To continue to fight back those weeds, to prune and participate in the cultivating of God’s creation? To walk in faith amidst hard journeys, to walk alongside others, to care, to turn to God in all things? To care for and nurture our children and youth, continuing to share the love of Christ and teach them who, in Baptism, we are – beloved children of God, adopted into the covenant by Christ through the Holy Spirit.
As children, youth, and young adults begin school, I invite us to hold them and their families and teachers in prayer. For those who are walking hard journeys and for all of us, we pray for glimpses of God’s Presence in each day. And we pray for God to guide us and our church, giving us the wisdom and strength to follow in the ways God is calling.
In Peace & Hope,