Happy New Year!
We have come through another holiday season and into a new year, in fact, a new decade. This year we seem to be starting the new year with a lot of disturbing events. Mother Nature is wreaking havoc with wildfires in Australia, earthquakes in Puerto Rico and a volcano eruption in the Philippines. Political unrest seems to be everywhere in the world and rumblings of war make for a very stressful welcoming of a new year.
I myself have been feeling engulfed by all of the ‘news’ and the attempts to get back into a regular rhythm seem small and insignificant compared to the size and shape of world affairs. Coupled with the amount of excitement and planning and execution of a variety of Christmas celebrations, both at church and with family, all of which seemed to come to a rather quick conclusion, there is an emptiness now.
It may seem strange to be reflecting on nativity at this time of year, but I think that the gospels of Mark and John, which at first glance do not appear to have birth narratives, are perfect for this time of year when new beginnings may seem difficult to imagine. Nativity symbolizes the love and power of God and also God’s desire to do something new - Good News that will confound us for centuries. Because of this it is important that we look for nativity, or new birth, in all of our gospels, not just the ones with manger scenes and a baby.
Mark’s gospel begins with the origin of Jesus’ ministry, with baptism and a descending dove – such a powerful symbol. This story of Jesus becoming fully himself as an adult vividly illustrates that new purpose and an awareness of God’s call can and does come at any age. John’s gospel gives us a story of the origin of the cosmos. “In the beginning…” does not just refer to Jesus, but to all of God’s creation. It is a reminder that all is God’s and there can be no separation from God within creation. For me, these are comforting stories that remind me of what is important as I step into a new decade. There is work to be done and if I periodically shut out the noise and clamor, and take a deep cleansing breath I will be reminded that God is with me in that work.
Blessings for a new year filled with the awareness of God’s presence.