Season of New Starts
The first days of January are a season of new starts. People make resolutions, lots of us join gyms or renew our commitment to actually going to the gym, we set goals to achieve or aim toward being a kinder, better version of ourselves. The first work day of the new year is a good day for opening up a new journal. If you use a paper calendar, it’s a day for writing in important dates and plans on those blank pages full of opportunity and promise.
Today as I sat at my desk, I opened the first work day of the year with my usual routine. Journal open, Bible at hand, music by St. Hildegard of Bingen playing – and when I reached for my Common Prayer: Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, the book next to it fell over and knocked a can of colored pens off the shelf, crashing to the floor and taking out a stack of paperwork as it went. Not the peaceful beginning I’d imagined!
To be honest, sitting down to do my morning devotional wasn’t even the first thing I did today. My husband had his work laptop at home this weekend – he works in international freight, which never takes a holiday. He went off to his office this morning, but his laptop power cord stayed behind. So my day actually began as I drove down to his office to drop off the cord.
Where the Spirit Breaks In
These two not-quite-as-planned beginnings made us laugh, as we had just shared a story in worship on Sunday about one of our mission trips that also had a not-quite-as-planned beginning. We were working at a church in South Africa, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, which is peak summer holiday season. The brickworks was scheduled to deliver a load of bricks which we would use to put up one of the main sanctuary walls. However, the load didn’t make it before the brickworks closed for the holiday, so we had no bricks to put up. What would we do? Pete, the construction foreman for the church, managed to find some smaller projects at the church for us while he searched for some other ways to use our time. He managed to have the floor tiles delivered early, and one of our team turned out to have a great deal of experience in laying tile. The trip certainly didn’t begin as we’d imagined, but by being patient and following the lead of the local foreman, we were able to contribute to the building of their beautiful sanctuary.
If your church or group is planning a mission trip in 2018, I encourage you to pray and make lots of plans. Use colored pens to fill up your pages, draw in the margins and outside the lines, make notes of all the people you can follow and write prayers for all those you’ll meet. Most of all, be sure to leave room for when plans don’t go as planned – that room is where the Holy Spirit breaks into our hearts and reveals God’s amazing love for us all.