I think we’d all agree there comes a time when we look at all the stuff we’ve accumulated and we either decide to build a bigger barn or face the fact that we’ve accumulated more than we could ever want or need. When that happens, what should we do? Apparently, according to the passage today, building a bigger barn is probably not the best, first choice. I’m not saying we need to give everything away, or pile a mountain of clothing on our beds. But how do we keep from wanting a bigger barn?
I have had the jobs that are passion-less rituals of meetings and projects and lunches and annual reviews and disappointing but acceptable raises and days filled with mindlessness. That kind of work has its positives (hello, benefits), but never enough to make me want to jump out of bed in the morning. Maybe you’ve had a job like that, too. Maybe you’re in one, now? If so, maybe it’s out of necessity, and I think there’s something to that. But I do hope and pray for passion, too.
I know the idea of following your dreams often gets a bad rap. I know some people think it’s foolish to keep going after some things. But I always end up right back in the same place: I honestly believe God gives us the desires of our hearts. Not in some kind of “name it and claim it” theology. And certainly not in a way that promises life will be a bed of roses. But, if you’ve got something stirring in your heart, and it keeps agitating your hope and making it rise to the surface, I say pay attention to that thing. Keep offering that thing up to God.
At the center of everything, when it comes right down to it, how in touch are each of us with the person God created us to be? I’m writing this at the start of a brand-new year, and in the year or two that came before this particular new year people have been talking a lot about truth. Truth has been the topic of many of our news cycles, church sermons, podcast episodes, and dinner table conversations. For better or worse, we, like Pilate in his response to Jesus, have been asking, “What is truth?”
This feeling of chaos, hopelessness, and utter despair was the mood du jour for the people of God at the time of the events that unfolded in today’s scripture. The first verse and the beginning of the second verse remind us that the rulers of the day were heavy-handed, tough-minded, and corrupt. It was into this cultural moment that John predicted the arrival of the Messiah, one who would usher in peace at just the right time.
The entirety of God’s love towards us tells this story of God himself—all-knowing, all-powerful, all- and ever-present God—bending toward us, reaching out in our direction, coming toward us before we even knew there was a difference between up and down. God loved us first, before we could rack up points or accomplishments or ever-increasing feats of genius to impress God and make him want to love us.
Last week, just after the sun appeared, I opened my bedroom curtain and there, in the field beside our house, I saw a burning bush. It was burning, but it was not consumed, and my breath caught in my throat. Of course, I thought of Moses. The bush wasn’t literally on fire. But the bright red leaves of the small sapling against a backdrop of yellows and blues and pinks and greens of fall was stunning. I knew, right then and there, I was in the presence of God.
From time to time, a young dad and his son go for a walk in our neighborhood. The little boy is five and just started kindergarten this year. He is curly-haired, caramel-skinned, full of energy and smiles and giggles. His dad is tall and lean, a head full of curls, and has a serious case of love for his son. The other day, the two passed my window in fits and starts… As they reached the corner, the young boy stopped, apparently done with walking or running or anything else…
Heaven is all around us, and the Spirit of God invites us to awaken to a life where every ordinary moment shimmers with gold… The Golden Hour is here, right where you are. Jesus told us we would be his witnesses, first in the place where our feet are planted. At your kitchen table, in line at the grocery store, walking the dog with in your neighborhood, in the boardroom, on the other end of that phone call. This moment, right now, is what you are called to. This is the adventure of a lifetime.
It’s difficult to truly know the meaning of love. Most of us would probably say we know it when we feel it. But the truth of love is hard, if not impossible, to put into words. True love is bigger than our emotions can contain; richer than our senses can absorb. The Bible tells us God is love and, I have found that, when trying to explain love, it’s best to begin with God… God is love. What if God is inviting us to be love in the world, too?