Merry Advent and Happy New Year

I’m currently reading a book by Miroslav Volf called Allahwhich seeks to answer the question of whether the focus of Christian and Muslim devotion (namely God) is the same. I’ve enjoyed the book so far because it forces me to realize I’m not the only person in the world, and that my perspective (regardless of whether it’s right) is not the only one. Over the past couple of years, it has been in these moments of realization that I have encountered God most intimately. And the God I encounter is not “my” God, but rather it’s the God of the heavens and the earth, the God that spoke light out from the face of the deep, the God that breaths life into the diverse colors of creation, the God that answered Job out of the whirlwind, the God that is seeking to establish a shalom for the world to enjoy, the God that is One, the God that is coming.

As we progress through Advent towards Christmas, and towards a new year, I’ve been reflecting on where I have seen this One at work through the past year and trying to discern where they will be working in the coming year. I feel like this past year (and really, all my years in totality) have been less of a series of snapshots and more of a single photo developing into clarity in the “darkroom” of God’s presence. Simply, these past years have not been multiple experiences of God, but rather a continues flow of the experience of this God. As for where this compassionate and merciful One will work in the future, I can only speculate.

Turning 18 and leaving for college felt like being moments from the top of a mountain. A few brief steps away from clarity, freedom, wisdom, and strength. Turning 21 has felt like arriving at the pinnacle of that mountain, only to realize that it is a small hill. From atop this hill I gaze upon the vast, truly magnificent, mountains and valleys that stretch far beyond my shortsightedness. I have very little idea of what lies on the numerous paths ahead, or of how deep some of those valleys may take me, but I have confidence that I do not journey alone. The Fire of the burning bush burns inside of me and the descendents of Abraham, as numerous as the stars, stand around me. The Spirit of God breaths stillness into my capriciousness and the Body of Christ sharpens me when I’m dull.

As we wait for God’s “adventus”, or coming, I think we should also be developing a sense of “going”. I think we should strive to answer God’s call into the unknown like Mary does in response to Gabriel’s message of her miraculous pregnancy, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”. The courage and faith of this young teenage girl inspires me. Like Mary we are not offered promises of power, success, ease, or abundance, but we are offered promises of hope, love, joy, peace, and Christ.

I’m not a big fan of New Year resolutions, but in the spirit of Advent, reflecting on the past year, and looking to the uncertainty of the coming year, I have decided to try my best to commit to sharing snippets of God’s grace and my thankfulness every week through the coming year. I literally have no idea where I will be in one year. I recently submitted an application to an 11 month international service program, so that could take me pretty much anywhere. I could also end up back in school. Or I may end up working. Regardless of where I end up, I want to strive to have eyes to see the merciful and compassionate One. I want to strive to see rightly, to know truthfully, to speak courageously and to love deeply in a world stricken with chaos.

If I’m correct, 2015 will have 53 weeks in it. Ideally that will mean at least 53 moments to encourage others and intentionally remind myself of God’s presence forming and shaping my life. To a year with God. Here is number one:

I am thankful for siblings God has put in my life. Siblings that are funny, joyful, clever, cranky, annoying, and sometimes straight up a pain in the neck. It is a privilege to be their brother.