If it weren’t for holidays, I think it would be possible for people to keep on trucking through days and weeks before they’d take notice of how quickly time was really passing. Rush is such a part of our western world, that most of the time we don't know any other way to function. Advent is passing into Christmas and Christmas to New years and we find ourselves in the midst of resolutions and hopes for the upcoming year. What will this year hold? What do I hope and dream of in the 365 days of 2009? Before I get thinking too far in the future, there is a point that I’d like to make. The holidays have a way of marking time for us. When we return to our lives beyond Christmas, New Years and Three Kings day – what will help us to slow down and become more aware of life and spiritual matters? Living in an attitude of contemplation is one way of striving for this awareness.
Contemplation is defined as being given to or characterized by contemplation. Some synonyms of contemplation are: meditative, pensive, reflective, speculative, thinking, ruminant, thoughtful, attentive, intent, introspective and musing.
In the last week or so, I’ve been reading an excellent book called “Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the presence of Jesus”, by Mark Yaconelli. This book is starting to help me think in a more contemplative manner by addressing the human tendency to rush through life, often times leaving prayer or spiritual disciplines in the dust, because we want the quick and easy result. We’d like to have an easy button to help make things, well, easier.
Living contemplatively requires that we take a look at our lives, much the way we do as we think about and plan our resolutions for the New Year, but contemplative living is something that has a tendency to last longer than a well intentioned resolution. Our motives in resolutions usually revolve around the betterment of our health and wellness. What if living contemplatively helped us to achieve what we resolve and hope for as well as what we are yet to imagine?
Ephesians 3:20- 21 says,
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen."
It is easy in life and in ministry to simply make resolutions and hope that these goals come to life, but the truth is there isn’t an “Easy” button or a magic genie lamp to make our dreams instantly appear. Please understand, I believe that there is dreaming and planning to be done for the upcoming year, but I think it would be helpful for our church communities to begin this year with a simple question.
“How do we as a group of people called together to pray and serve, go about sharing the good news of God’s presence among us? (Contemplative Youth Ministry, Yaconelli pg 156).”
It is in asking questions that we often find the next step in our journey. Our dreams and hopes are just a glimpse of what is possible in the upcoming year. In this New Year, let’s take the next step in the road closer to God by asking, “What would be your dream for our church this year?” and even more, “What God is your dream for me?”
May this year of possibility, hope and promise also be one with hearts and lives that are attentive to the dreams of God for us and individuals and as communities of faith. Happy New Year!
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