Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Impossible Happening to the Unlikely

Now is the time to prepare to move into the season after Epiphany.  This year, Easter comes early--not as early as it could be, but early enough so that we don't have many Sundays in this post-Epiphany season before we launch into Lent.

But before we leave Christmas and Epiphany behind, make sure to read this post by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  Many of us go to churches where the Christmas story has been sanitized and sentimentalized so much that we forget how radically strange the incarnation of Christ is:  "In a way, the story of Jesus’ birth is about God redeeming the whole world through making the impossible happen to the unlikely. Which is important to remember since within the first few hundred years, Christianity had lost it’s original dinginess, it’s origins of marginalized people and out-of-wedlock pregnancies and beloved prostitutes and dinner parties with all the wrong people and loving the enemy which all quickly gave way to respectability and fancy robes and emperors and pageantry."

I love that phrase:  "making the impossible happen to the unlikely."  There's God's mission statement.  What would happen if churches adopted it?

What would happen if we as individuals truly remembered it?  We spend a lot of time suppressing and repressing our less desirable parts.  Many of us inhabit communities and workplaces and relationships that require us to reshape our essential selves and not always for the best.  What would happen if we remembered that God loves every aspect of us?

Bolz-Weber talks about how she's tired and yearning to be enchanted again.  And then she reminds herself that she's likely missing God moving amongst us:

"But this week I started to wonder if I miss noticing God’s reality of the impossible and the unlikely because instead I’m focusing on the important.

Because I think we often miss that God is incarnating the impossible among the unlikely because we are busy with whatever seems important to us instead. And I wonder if this is the same way people missed it in first century Palestine. Perhaps they were so busy at their prayers, that no one noticed God walking among them because God was inside the womb of an insignificant peasant girl rushing to the hills to visit her kinswoman and that’s not the kind of thing you pay attention to when you have important things to do."

She ends with a list of the impossible happening among the unlikely, a list that includes new births and sobriety and the hospitality of a church.  It's an important version of a gratitude list.

This week, I've been wrestling with feelings of despair and a vague hopelessness about the future.  Part of it is standard post-holiday blues.  Part of it is a variety of mid-life crisis, although crisis is too strong a word.  What word would sum up the need for a shift to a new path, without the discernment of what the path should be?

I feel I've even lost my capacity to dream.  Once, I had so many visions of possible futures that I couldn't decide which one would be best.  Before that, I assumed that I would have time to complete all of those possible futures:  backpacking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, completing multiple graduate programs, writing novels, a rewarding career (or 2 or 3 or 4!)--all those things and more I assumed would be mine.

Now I feel tired.

It's good to be reminded that God does not grow weary in this way.  God has grand visions, and we don't have to understand the full scope of them all.  God will make a way out of no way.

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