“New beginnings” A meditation by Robin Wardlaw - Evening Service January 23, 2013
Epiphany, Year C
Readings: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 98; Luke 9:23-25
Renewal is one of our spiritual tasks. And privileges. Much of our life is continuity, but the bible holds out this hope, that a person can begin again. Gym owners know this. They see their attendance zoom up on January 2nd, and then begin to drop off. By the end of the month, or early February, activity is back to its usual level. Getting in shape spiritually is similar to getting in shape physically. It takes a decision, and then commitment. And of course, perseverance.
The prophet somehow understands this about God, that God is a god of second chances, new beginnings. In a moment, we’re going to think and then talk about ourselves–where we want to let something go, start something up. So it’s good to reflect about covenant, and new covenant. Because it’s not as if the people had no covenant with their Maker and Redeemer. Covenants abound in the Old Testament. After the garden, with Abraham, with Isaac, with Jacob, on the mountain during the Exodus, at the Jordan River before they crossed into Israel. One after another. God is a mother who just can’t turn her back on her children, even if they have been dreadful.
And they were dreadful. There are a few parallels around the world at present with what was going on then, but you have to look for them. Yet there is this slow drumbeat of forgiveness and fresh starts. And we need to hear that, most of us. We love to hear it. Acts that result in suffering or dying–the opposite of the great dream for humankind and the planet–do not condemn us to suffering or death. Unless we let them.
Jesus pegs it with his analysis of us. Sometimes the prospect of gaining the whole world is just too blinding for us. We can’t turn away from our selfishness or our self-centredness. We can’t see anything that looks better. Or the cost of continuing on our path. Tonight is a time to slow down and look around, to listen to our better angels, to hold our ambitions up against the good news of Christ for comparison.
So what do you need to start, or stop, in your life at the moment. How are you experiencing the call of the Spirit right now? What baggage can you put down and leave here, and is there some part of Jesus’ joyous mission of selflessness you long to pick up? Give yourself a full minute to think and pray. Then turn to one other person and listen to what’s on their heart. Get ready to tell what’s on your heart, what new thing the Spirit may be trying to write on your heart in this season of new beginnings.
Deep under the frost, roots are storing up the life that will rise in the trees and bushes in just a few months. Under the ice, there is life, waiting for the lakes and streams to melt. Then little creatures will make it to the surface, spread out wings they have never had before, and take to the air. What is wanting to bud out in your life? What wings are there, ready to spread out for soaring?