Happy New Year!
November 27, 2016
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
Sunday, November 27, marked the beginning the of Christian year, a surprise to some but not to others. The Christian calendar takes the faithful us through the events of Jesus’s life, from Advent, the time of waiting, to Christ the King, the celebration of the inauguration of Jesus’s reign, which, incidentally, was celebrated on Sunday, November 20, this year. The beauty and symmetry of the Christian aligns our lives with the activity of God in the world, distancing us from the intense, pressurized, and contentious cycles of worldly living. Overlying and surrounding the demands of time are the saving and eternal actions of our God. The things of this world are not unimportant, but they are penultimate – meaning, less than ultimate or before the ultimate. Ultimately, this world will pass away, and only the Kingdom of our God will remain, which brings me back to the Christian New Year and the beginning of Advent.
The secular calendar starts on January 1 and begins with a host of resolutions by many, goals and plans that we intend to accomplish before year’s end. In contrast, the Christian New Year begins with hope and expectation and waiting, not for what we will do, but for what God will do. Most of us think of Advent as the time we wait and prepare for the birth of Christ. Certainly, all our celebrations focus on the Christ Child. However, in truth Advent is the time we look forward to Christ’s return, and we wait expectantly for His complete reign. In this, we are reminded of the passing nature of worldly affairs, regardless of the urgency with which they press upon us daily.
As our New Year starts, I am reminded of a scene from C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia. The children experience their first extended journey into Narnia, a place frozen in waiting – always winter, but never Christmas. Led by Beaver as they try to stay ahead of the evil witch, the frozen tundra and rivers slowly begin to show the first signs of thawing, a drip here, a crack in the ice there. As the children take note, the Beaver explains, “They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps He has already landed.” Aslan is on the move… Something is about to happen. In The Chronicles of Narnia Aslan is the Christ-figure, and whenever Aslan shows up, wonderful, mighty, and beautiful things occur.
Aslan is on the move… That imagery is so rich! The powerful and good King of all is stalking through the frozen grip of sin and evil, melting the ice that freezes our souls and locks us into stagnation. Something is about to happen, and whatever happens when Aslan arrives is good, more than good, it is life-changing and life-giving.
When we take stock of our world, we see much to discourage us, but that is because our vision is too narrow, too low. Christ Jesus is on the move. He is the Lord of all, and He is the Lord of history. In every age and generation, He acts. We have but to hope and wait expectantly for Him. That is the point of Advent. Whatever we see, we need to look for the signs that the Spirit of God is moving in our world, and our God is preparing to do a new thing. Always, God is doing something new.
As we wait, should we think Christ will return this year? Perhaps. Who am I to know? The odds are against it. We have been waiting for nearly 2,000 years since His Resurrection and Ascension. The return of Christ is always possible, for it will certainly happen one day. But as we wait for that grand and glorious day, we can know with certainty that Christ is not absent, that He is moving in our world right now, moving in our lives if we open ourselves to Him.
This Advent, that is my focus: to open myself to Him again – afresh and anew. I don’t know about you, but I need that this year. This past year, filled with wonderful blessings, and also overwhelmed with demands, distractions, and stagnation, I need to lift my eyes and open myself to the movement of Jesus Christ as He goes about doing a new thing, both in the world and in my own life. When we allow ourselves to focus on the penultimate affairs of the world, we lose the vision of Christ on the move.
What about you? Does your life need a new thing done in it? Are you caught in the wilderness of the world, distracted by loud voices demanding our allegiance and commanding hostility among us? Are there battlegrounds in your own life that consume your thought and energy? Have you stagnated in the churning waters near the shore, even as Christ calls you to the deep waters of life? If so, Advent is the season for you, the season during which we open our hearts and minds to the coming of Jesus Christ and His movement in lives and in our world.
Wait upon the Lord. Wait expectantly. Christ Jesus is on the move, and He is about to do a new thing in the wildernesses and wastelands of our world. As Beaver said to the children, “They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps He has already landed.” Wouldn’t that be something! Lift your eyes in expectant prayer to look for the new thing our God is doing.
In Christ –
© 2016 Elizabeth Moreau
Servants’ Feast Christian Ministry