Today we begin a new year, 2017. The congregation that we belong to has decided to meet in small groups in homes around the city, inviting neighbors to eat, celebrate, and reflect on the year.
As I prepare my home for both dear friends and strangers to gather, I am aware that I am participating in a millennia tradition of the Church. As I look ahead to this year, with some fear of what is to come, I take comfort in participating in this tradition of small groups of people committed to love and bear witness to the Kingdom of God no matter what is happening in their society.
I sense that this is the invitation for 2017- to boldly bear witness to the justice, love, and hope that Jesus proclaimed. It has always been the invitation, I am just more aware of it now. And in the year ahead, I am prepared to live into that invitation. As we close out a year that has been marked by division, even in the Church, my prayer is that we can unite, refocused on who's Kingdom it is has come in Jesus, is coming through us, and will come again with Christ's return.
So today I start by gathering our friends and neighbors in our garage (because we won't all fit in the house) to connect and look ahead with hope.
On this seventh day of Christmas this reflection comes to mind:
The Seventh Day of Christmas- January 1
Reflection from "When the Time Was Fulfilled"
"The very first Christians lived in the light of Christ's second coming. They remained together because their common waiting gathered them...Their expectation was the only thing that had gathered them.
...Here and there groups of people are to gather and pray and long for the coming kingdom. It is not a matter of our knowing when and how God's future will come. We need not calculate or plan anything. That is nothing but foolish self-will. What matters is that we are united in the glowing center of our souls, in the very deepest, incandescent nucleus of our hearts, within the furnace of gathering expectation, within a common fire where the cold, hard iron is melted to glowing steel.
It is extremely important that in the face of the untold horror of humankind's suffering, we become one in glowing expectation, united as to which kingdom is to come and with what justice, with what peace, and with what joy this reign of God will come. Then we are genuinely gathered. Then we are melted together, fused and welded together, forged together, and loved together by the sacred spirit of this expectation.
When that happens our life will become more and more like the life that shall one day be given to all people. Our life will be a witness, a pointer to the fact that even here and now something of the justice and peace of God, the fellowship of God's people is represented. In all things God will begin to rule! We will want nothing but God's will to be done."
- Eberhard Arnold