Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. - James 1:22-25 (NIV)
A few weeks ago, I fell into a conversation with a handful of women I barely know. We were reflecting on a local news headline that had us feeling distressed. Sighing softly – and I thought inaudibly - I uttered, “We need to do something different.” The woman across from me, clutched her chest, “Oh my gosh; that’s IT! We need to do something different.”
Where, in your life, do you long for things to look and feel different? Is it your relationship with your work, your family or prayer life? Maybe it’s where you’re giving your time, or spending your creativity? Or it’s the election and major decisions in your local communities? Where, in your life, are you hungry for greater connectivity, deeper understanding, a sense of purpose and impact?
Like you, these questions put me on-edge; they’re important and when I’m feeling stuck or dissatisfied, I know it’s because God is inviting me to I do something different.
Our present time in the church calendar often called, Ordinary Time, coincides with New Year’s celebrations on other calendars the world around: Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew), Neyrouz (Coptic), Samhain (Wiccan), and Diwali (Hindu). It’s not such a stretch to feel New Year’s energy now marked by Autumn’s surge of “Back-to-School” excitement and the harvest bountifully pouring forth at farm stands everywhere. This final fit of energy – before the solstice dark sets in – might be just the nudge we need to be courageous, to dig deeper and to do something different.
I won’t lie. This “doing-something-different” stuff can be DICEY. It means responding repeatedly to uncertainty and meeting it as authentically as our vulnerable-brave-fragile-resilient-wise-and-humble-selves can muster. But in this letter from James, we’re encouraged to look for God, to seek what truly frees us, so as to live in blessing. And I believe this is God’s invitation to us - to prayerfully tend the new possibility as it arises. Where have you found the Holy revealed in the unpredictable patterns of life and death, joy and sorrow, coming and going, growing and grieving?
As the seasons change, as Ordinary Time transitions into anticipation and Advent, may you embrace God’s invitation to show up in your life and discover something refreshingly, soothingly, soul-shiftingly different.