At the beginning of a new year, many of us relish the possibility of change. For some it is the thrill of setting a new course, for others that of developing relationships in family life, for still others it is the hope for new patterns to emerge in work life. I imagine that our Heavenly Father, the one who is bursting with love and forgiveness, longs to help us to embrace all these things.
I have so many things on my New Year list! Sometimes it feels as though even making a small change can take months of pondering and planning. Sometimes changing direction is like turning a really heavy boat around against the flow of the tide! All too often in early January I see some of these hopes fizzle out, drop off my agenda or become crushed by insecurity or doubt. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. When I lift my eyes to the skies I see the birds fly where they choose on the winds of the moment! This is a beautiful metaphor for the freedom intended for us all. Why is it that so often we feel like we are moving in slow motion or dragging ourselves through treacle? Sometimes it is the well trodden paths of history which pull heavily on our decisions. At times it is the internal doubts and insecurities that confine us. At other times it is the ties in life, the responsibilities we carry, that hold us back. Or perhaps it is the way we look at these things? Could they be transformed into possibilities, joys and adventures? So let us stand, hand in hand with each other, and explore without fear! Share and laugh together. Take mini steps, moment by moment, day by day. Here we can hold steady to a loving God, and stand on the bed of grace given to us by Jesus. He is alive! And we can be alive too. So hope and breathe anew!
I like to reframe things. As an artist I have always been fascinated at looking at things from a different angle, daring to change something in a picture. Equally in real life it fascinates me how retakes can transform our thinking, unlock our heart or heal our experiences. As followers of Christ we are urged to have open eyes, to be guided by love and acceptance and to be willing to forgive. And it truly works! I have had a tendency in the past to look down upon myself, to reject who I am. These days I take each thought captive! What if my shyness was reframed as gentleness, my self-doubt recognised as humility? Gradually I am released to be all that I can be! And at times in my blindness I have needed others to reframe my circumstances for me. Like how I see my children. A friend helpfully reframing my very intense son as a gifted perfectionist, or my emotional son reframed as empathetic.
As Christians we are given the tools for harmony. We reframe with love, we reframe with acceptance, we reframe with hope, we reframe with forgiveness. Not only does this transform our lives, it sends shoots of renewal into our families as we fan into flame the Godly qualities in our characters and allow the negative ones to slowly fall away.
I wrote the following poem that you can see in the video below for a church nativity service. I love these moments in our lives, the ones that distill everything that we hold dear! Lights shining in the darkness, heaven filled with music, cherished moments watching our little ones and the feeling of unity and love. Somehow I wanted to speak something of clarity, something that caught the story of the birth of Jesus and made it more than a story, more than history! The transformational event we remember at Christmas time is alive with promise, pulsating with dramatic intention and overflowing with gentleness, grace and truth. Every aspect connects with the true nature of our Creator, the elements weaving and combining together with the unspoken yearnings that run deep within us, the fears and hopes we all hold and the counter-culture nature of Christ and His Kingdom. Here is Jesus, a King, born into the world as a poor and threatened refugee. Here is the author of time and space vulnerable, dependent and fragile.
And what of the ones who came to see this precious newborn? A doorkeeper with a soft heart, those that pastor and faithfully watch over their sheep, the wise-ones who dwell upon scripture, await the call of God and follow the signs. Like Mary, some who come will carry the gift of God deep within them. Like Joseph, others will faithfully obey the calling of God for their lives. And the miracle of Christmas is that love came! The true nature of love has been revealed, and we live in this amazing revelation:-
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