If you are here very often, you know that I often ask Nancy for a word. It helps me jumpstart my thinking.
“Consider”, she said.
It may be that she was thinking about the words from Jesus: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they neither toil nor spin.” She may have been at the table in the kitchen, looking at the back yard. We changed some of the perennial beds back to grass this year, but we left plenty lilies, of several kinds. She’s aware of the toil and tending that flower beds take; she’s aware that the flowers themselves bear evidence of God’s beauty. She has considered that.
She had read the post by our friend Jen Bradbury who spent a couple nights, including Christmas Eve, in the hospital with a child. She wrote about what God with us means in those long hours. We celebrate Immanuel, God with us, at Christmas with majestic music, but Jen helps us remember that the heart of advent is having the longing and dread, and then finding the unintrusive intentional presence of God with us.
Nancy hadn’t read Samuel James’ reflection on “the Unlost Year”. He considers the sense we have of lost time and lost opportunities, and suggests that God’s understanding of time and success and opportunity are significantly and substantively different that ours. And are preferable.
I’m guessing that she wasn’t thinking of the words of Samuel following the designation of Saul as the first king of Israel. He tells them that he’s no longer their leader, and that in many ways, God isn’t either. Not that God doesn’t offer leadership, but that the people wanted a king. And would turn to a king. And might worship a king in place of God.
The people realized that they had doubted God’s capacity in their desire for a king. They begged Samuel to keep praying for them, to not abandon them.
Samuel replied, “Don’t be afraid. Even though you have committed all this evil, don’t turn away from following the Lord. Instead, worship the Lord with all your heart. Don’t turn away to follow worthless things that can’t profit or rescue you; they are worthless. The Lord will not abandon his people, because of his great name and because he has determined to make you his own people.
“As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you. I will teach you the good and right way. Above all, fear the Lord and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things he has done for you. However, if you continue to do what is evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”
It’s good counsel for the end of a year, for when we’ve gotten distracted, for when we are feeling adrift: “Consider the great things he has done for you.”