by Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter
And the Lord answered me:
“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2
As we finish up our first year working with congregations in the Living Churches Initiative, as I finish up a three-day meeting with Lilly Endowment learning from past grantees, and as we all complete yet another year of COVID-crazy-different… this word keeps coming back to me.
In my typical nerd fashion, I looked it up – and the dictionary definition of “revision” is spectacularly unhelpful: “the action of revising, a revised edition or form of something”. Duh.
OK, if “revision” is an action, how can we turn “a revised form of something” – which feels so very small and undefined and incremental – to a complete Re-Vision? Instead of simply re-working, editing what we had, trying to inch our way forward – are we brave enough to truly engage in a wholesale change, a brave BIG step forward? How do we move forward differently, bringing in what we’ve learned? How do we incorporate the whispers of the Holy Spirit?
In so many ways, individuals and churches right now feel their future is held captive by hopelessness – that what COVID has wrought, denominational long-standing declining membership, and a general lack of energy to reinvent – leads to an inevitable and unhappy end. But I believe this liminal time has given us an opportunity to dream again — with obstacles removed and needs met, with prayerful discernment to get us back to the core of our Gospel Co-Mission — to see a new picture, a Re-Vision of all our witness could and should be.
In my Celtic tradition, Advent is 40 days (just like Lent). It conveniently starts on my birthday evening, so it’s easy to remember to start my reflective waiting period then. Celtic Christians always prayed and fasted for 40 days in preparation for any major life event, whether it be the planting of a new monastic center, the beginning of a new adventure, as well as preparation for Christmas and Easter.
I love that the Celtic Advent invitation begins before consumerism ramps up to a fever pitch and we become too distracted and overwhelmed by the busyness of the season to really take notice of what matters most – the chance to go deep and listen to what God is dreaming for us, to re-create our time and link to Him, and to Re-Vision our future. Certainly He did that bringing His Son to earth.
I pray that you, too, enter this Advent season of waiting as an active, soul searching prayerful season that leads to Re-Vision – both for your individual walk with Christ and the Spirit, but also for the church. He has asked us to make disciples in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As we prepare to celebrate our remembrance of Christ’s birth, we prepare to welcome him afresh as Savior, anticipating His return at the end of time when the fullness of God’s redemption will be revealed and all creation will be made new. Let us Re-Vision our mission here to make our churches follow that Vision, and Re-Vision our dedication to Him. Let us spend the Advent planning our new adventure.