Prepare to be amazed!
In November, we had the delight of hosting Rollie Martinson for our “Elders Rising” event. He talked about pioneering a new epoch in aging, how to use your spiritual gifts as you age, and how much the world needs elders who share their stories, their faith, and their gifts of encouragement. He told a story that has been working on my heart as we enter the season of Advent and this year’s theme of “Prepare to be amazed.”
Rollie’s story was about a group of elders whose gifts are in the realm of financial planning and stewardship. He said that this group has gotten together to encourage giving to their church and the ministry it is currently doing. But they are also using their energy to encourage others to leave gifts to the church in their wills so that they can make an impact on the church’s ministry, in whatever form that takes, after they have passed away. Amazing! This money is meant to be spent on a church that might look radically different than the church these elders have known. This money might fund ministry that was never even dreamed of while these elders were church members. This money might fund ways of unfolding the Gospel to people that we never thought possible. All this with no strings attached. Amazing! I can just about guarantee that if these givers could see into the future and how their gifts will be used they would be absolutely amazed. What I found inspiring was the trust in God and the leaders of the future that God will raise up so completely so that they could say YES to giving to the future church.
We don’t know what the church will look like in 50 years. We don’t know what it will look like in 10! But we do know that God keeps calling the body of Christ to be good news in a world where people are hungry for welcome, justice, mercy, love, and relationships. We do know that God shows up in surprising ways to get to us with love, like being born in a barn to a poor, teenage girl. We do know that God works through the unexpected to keep our hearts and minds open and nimble enough to see the outrageous possibilities that exist when God’s Holy Spirit is loose in the world. Amazing!
Maybe this should be our Advent call. Be open to saying YES to what God calls us to even when we aren’t exactly sure what it’s going to look like. What can you say YES to this season? Maybe it is around issues of giving, or inviting a friend to worship, or getting to know someone else at church. Maybe God is calling you to explore the scriptures more deeply, or start a spiritual practice, or pray for that person who drives you nuts. Maybe God is calling you to say yes to entering into the work of advocating for someone who doesn’t look like you, worship like you, or talk like you. Maybe God is calling you to trust that God takes all of who we are, our whole lives, and uses us to heal and enliven our world. You just never know.
Welcome to Advent. Prepare to be amazed.