start strong: affirm the good

It’s somewhat surprising to read that Mary and Joseph “did everything required by the law of the Lord” (Luke 2:39).  

They could have said,  “Our situation is different.  We’re going to do our own thing.  We know what’s best for our family.”  

But they don’t. 

If ever there was an exception to the rule it was Mary and Joseph. But rather than do things their own way, they still submit to the wisdom of their tradition.  They affirm the good.

We tend to lean the other way – toward discovering a new way, a new secret, a hidden code,
 an-only-just-discovered book.   And as we lean toward the new, we lean away from the traditional and the historically-informed, and the time-tested. 

The new way is exciting, well-marketed, young and sexy.  People sell books about new things.  Until they’re not new anymore.  Then the trend fades and nobody seems to be doing the Atkins diet anymore.  You start seeing Tae-bo vhs tapes at garage sales.

What if the best way forward is to embrace the traditions and the rhythms of the historic Christian faith? 

The world-wide, historic Christian community has sung a song of worship and devotion to Jesus.   By valuing the traditions of our faith we join in that anthem.   We, too, affirm the good. 

To neglect the wisdom of those who have gone before us, to think, “I know better than Paul and Peter and Mary and Anna and countless other faithful Christians, to insist on re-creating the wheel of spiritual development instead of building on the wisdom of those who have started strong and lived well is, frankly, arrogant and foolish.  

start strong: wait well

Most of us have only been taught one kind of waiting: the passive, do nothing, watch-daytime-TV-while-they-repair-my-car kind of waiting.  This view sees waiting as the non-thing which happens before the important stuff begins.

This is not the kind of waiting demonstrated by those who have waited well.

For them, waiting is active.  It’s expectant, anticipatory, longing, sometimes desperate, always hopeful, active waiting.  It is the wonder-filled, often difficult becoming season that enables a person to receive what is yet to come.  This view sees waiting as an essential part of the important stuff.  The important stuff has already begun in the waiting.

The direction and assurance we’re longing for does not come in 3 minute prayers.  It comes in the waiting.