Birthing New Expressions
Linda Stanbridge of Lexington, MI, USA
It is imperative to understand that when you are truly baptized into Christ you become part of a new creation. By taking on the life and mind of Christ, you increasingly view yourselves and others from a changed perspective. Former ways of defining people by economic status, social class, sex, gender, or ethnicity no longer are primary. Through the gospel of Christ a new community of tolerance, reconciliation, unity in diversity, and love is being born as a visible sign of the coming reign of God. -Doctrine and Covenants 164:5
Advent is an appropriate time to reflect on birthing. Though we’re all living through something we’ve never experienced before, Advent is a familiar reminder that God is eternally creating something new. One of the things we’ve discussed with our kids throughout the pandemic is, where is God in all this? We know that while God isn’t creating all this suffering, God is still creating-always forming something new. Sometimes it’s easier to see than at other times.
Before the pandemic, our new expression of spiritual community met monthly for dinner and twice a month volunteering at a homeless shelter. Once this was no longer possible, it felt like we had no real purpose or direction, and I found myself feeling lost about our calling. We began to worry about each other-those living alone, working from home, or at home with small children struggling to maintain normalcy while experiencing a collective trauma. It became apparent that the pandemic didn’t care that we’d planned for the year, so we decided to have a one-time, online check-in instead of our monthly dinner. This has quickly evolved into meeting online each week. Though I miss the hugs, the food, the baby giggles, and our friends at the homeless shelter, it is difficult to ignore what God has been busy birthing. This new way of connecting has allowed even more people to participate. We have deepened our connections with God and each other.
Though I will be glad to return to in-person meetings, we have no intention of going back to the way things were. That’s no longer enough for me. This new thing God is creating is more inclusive, more accessible, and Spirit-filled. God is always birthing something new and good, even from the depths of our despair and loneliness, from our fear and isolation. Despite the fear that this is changing us and changing the church, if we trust what is being born we will be assured that God is still here creating a future for us and for the church if we can manage the patience and anticipation for this long Advent season.
“Trust what is being born.”
Jesus, the Peaceful One
We have spent this year with a guiding question: Are we moving closer to Jesus, the Peaceful One? As we near the end of this calendar year, we review how this question has been shaping and forming us. In our thoughts, words, and actions, have we been embodying Jesus, the Peaceful One? What might it look like to move closer to Jesus, the Peaceful One as we make space in our lives for Christ incarnate this Advent season?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.