Thursday, January 09, 2014

Welcome New Year

I didn't realize until I was well into my adult years that hospitality is one of my core values.  Mostly because I never envisioned myself as the domestic type, and I always assumed that to be any good at offering hospitality a girl had to do it like Martha Stewart.  I mean how can someone as unkempt as me offer anything that could ever put another at ease?

And then I began to understand that unkemptness is gift too, offering something valuable to the weary soul tired of pretending life is perfect.  I am glad to welcome friends into my unkempt life, to provide a safe place to let down their hair, to listen to stories still in the middle, to laugh together at the way God weaves His humor in and out of our imperfect lives.  Having it all together is completely over-rated.  It leaves no room for anything more.  And I have found that God is always ready to surprise us with His More-ness.

More has a way of walking in and setting up shop in the realm of unkempt.

This is my hope for the year ahead.  I would love to say that I have a carefully thought out plan of what I want to do with my life, who I want to be when I grow up.  Yesterday I read a web-page that offered advice on how to systemize one's blog.  You mean there are people out there who have a system for this "I've got to write it so my soul will know it's alive" kind of thing?  Totally blows me away.  My system is pretty simple:  "Write at least once a week whether you want to or not; writing is good for you."  And it is.  I know where my soul is because it peaks out at me in the words.  Without the words it tends to get lost in my unkemptness.  The writing helps me give some order to this mess that I am.  And it opens my eyes to the More of God.

On Sunday I sat in church listening to the preacher talk about making covenants with God for the new year.  I sit in the tension of opposing desires within.  On the one hand I want to make big promises to God, to dream big, to honor God with dreams so big only He can fulfill them.  But I get overwhelmed with the pressure to decide exactly which dream I should dream.  Instead I think of Mary, mom of Jesus.  She never had big dreams.  But God had big dreams for her.  Her response was simple, profound--"Let it be with me, just as You have said."

Honestly, I'm not big enough, or smart enough, or clever enough to figure out what More should look like in my life.  But oh sweet Jesus I yearn for it--I'm hungry for only the More that He can bring.  I love Mary's words, her invitation to God as response to God's invitation to her--"Let it be with me . . . ."

I believe that this kind of response has a radical nature all its own.  Without demanding it welcomes Holy Initiative.  What if we spent our whole lives welcoming the very thing God wanted to do most?  What would our world look like?  And isn't that hospitality?  Doesn't God need a bit of hospitality too?

Our preacher continues to talk about covenant.  He compares it to marriage.  I think of marriage and covenants and how we bind ourselves to one another in a way that reshapes who we are.  God binds Himself to us in love, through the cross.  Jesus even in resurrection shows the marks of binding Himself to us--we are written on His hands.  Our preacher says that in the binding, God takes the greater portion of promise.  His promise holds our own when our promises perish.  God's takes on the burden of promise when He binds Himself to the broken, those who break promises because of their own brokenness.

I am turning this metaphor over and over in my mind.  I think of my own husband and our marriage and how the years bind us together. We are learning still how to love each other, yet there is a rich depth that marks our lives because of our loving.  I am comforted to know that perfect Love already holds us both.

The scripture comes to mind--Ephesians 5:25-27:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind--yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.
This word washes over me and I realize--I am part of the Bride that Christ loves so much; I too am one whom He is making splendid with His love; I too am one who will be holy and without blemish.  And my radical hospitality, those few and simple words of "Let this be", participate in making this possible.

I go throughout the ordinary parts of my day and another wave of realization washes over me:  He desires to do the More.  He wants to and longs to and watches with anticipation as my life is unfolding, waiting with giddy excitement to do the More.  It is not just an obligation of covenant for this precious Bridegroom; it is His deepest joy.  It's not that He has to.  He wants to.

And when I try to protest because my messy unkemptness will get in the way, He just laughs and asks me who do I think made me this way?

Welcome new year.

Welcome friends.

Welcome Bridegroom.

Welcome love.

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