Luke 3:4-6 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Life is unpredictable, to say the least. We have hopes for our families, our friends, and for our work to inspire us. We desire to fill each day of the year with memories to hold on to. Mary Oliver, the poet, writes about this desire to live life to the full, in her well-loved poem, The Summer Day…
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
|Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?|
The New Year is before us like an open book. The days of 2016 are unwritten with 365 clean pages waiting to be filled in. And while some people’s minds may be dwelling on what their resolution will be, my mind is caught in a loop of words from Luke 3… “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” The imagery of Luke’s words capture my imagination. I love how the gospel speaks of the “valley that shall be filled…mountains brought low…the crooked straight…and rough ways made smooth.” As I take a moment to reflect on 2015, I can see times where the valley seemed bottomless, the mountains reached past my point of seeing their peak, the crooked was horribly tangled beyond untangling, and the rough was an impassible off road journey. But in the midst of all the overwhelming “bigness” of those times that challenged and caused me to question my path – Jesus made a way through. There were blind corners, steep inclines and a few rather unexpected detours in the 365 days of 2015, but somehow Jesus was with me.
|Image taken by Gregory Slagle, Jamestown NY|
We do not know what the New Year ahead has to hold, but we know that each day gives us the space to write some new stories about each of our “wild and precious” lives. For the unwritten days of 2016, Jesus knows the way to get there and how to be present wherever the year takes us. Jesus is walking with us, pouring him into our lives with the good news of the gospel that resolves to make us new – every day.
For the year we say farewell to and the year that we about to greet – Jesus walks with us – and this is a resolution that God alone can keep.