Lately in our staff meetings and at last night’s Leadership Council I’ve heard a common refrain: Let’s do less at Plymouth…and do it better.
Does it seem to you that we sometime confuse being effective as a congregation with just being busy? Do we sometimes form Ministry Teams or launch events that may not align with our mission? We need to get better at saying, “No, thank you” to good things that just don’t fit in with our mission priorities and direction.
All of that sounds very hard-and-fast, but it also has deep resonances with Advent. We must be willing to say, “no” in order to keep ourselves focused on what is really important in this season. If you are a parent, it may seem supremely important to buy the right toy or technology for your child. There may be family traditions (making cinnamon bread at our house) that may sometimes seem like more of a burden than a joy. Decorating your Christmas tree and the inside of your home, not to mention illuminating the exterior, make take up more of your time than seems reasonable to you. Left unchecked, the shopping, cooking, traffic, dreaded holiday parties, and general busyness all can, ironically, keep us from our Advent task as Christians.
I’ve been preaching about newness and transformation the past two Sundays, and it occurs to me that these are part of my task (and perhaps yours) in this season. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann writes,
Imagine a whole company of believers rethinking their lives, redeploying their energy, reassessing their purposes. The path is to love God, not party, not ideology, not pet project, but God’s will for steadfast love that is not deterred by fear and anxiety. The path is to love neighbor, to love neighbor face-to-face, to love neighbor in community action, to love neighbor in systemic arrangements, in imaginative policies.
The decrees of Caesar Augustus continue to go out for taxes and for draft and for frantic attempts to keep the world under our control. But the truth is found in the vulnerable village of Bethlehem outside the capital city, the village that disregarded the imperial decree. It will take a village to exhibit this alternative, and we are citizens of that village. (from Celebrating Abundance)
What newness may be breaking into your life this Advent? What unexpected direction might God be luring your toward? What may be gestating within you that God may be calling you to deliver?
In anticipation of transformation,