Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epiphany has arrived and that means our Advent Spiritual Practice challenge is coming to a close. As the Spiritual Care Network team we have noticed folks have been logging in and we have received some notes of thanks for the challenge.

At times I found this challenge helpful and there were days when it was discouraging (I always struggle when I don’t do something perfectly). As I was reflecting on how I might conclude this challenge I recalled some of the stories I heard along the way.

I heard from some colleagues and personally experienced a different spirit this Advent season. Having set aside the time for practice, prayer and reflection I entered the Christmas season with a calmer spirit. Don’t get me wrong I still got cluttered and busy in a way I hoped I would not, but there was an acceptance that had not been there before - a new peace in the season of peace.

From members of the Squamish congregation that joined us on the challenge I heard the same. They have already been promised some of their stories will make their way to sermons any day now. There are stories of families being drawn together in practice, assistance with grieving a child who is struggling far away, and even a stain cleaned out of a carpet that had been there for years.

And so today as I thought about what this challenge has meant to me I thought of the magi journeying to Jesus. And I realized that perhaps their story is our challenge. What did they know of the Christ child when they began their journey? What did they expect to experience or receive?

What we know from Matthew’s gospel is “When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matt 2:9-11)

In faith as we journey towards Jesus we journey towards the light of life. It is not until we arrive at the light that we know how it will change us. The mystery of faith does not come with a guaranteed check off the box result. And the walk of faith (at least for me) is a never-ending journey, I am constantly in search of the light of life. And so with thanksgiving I am able to say this season has inspired a renewed search for life. And so my hope and prayer is that as we conclude this challenge we will not look at this day as the end of required practice but rather the beginning of a daily search for new life, new birth, and new light in the mystery of our faith.

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