Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Downton Abbey and our tendency to struggle against life

Our Asbury Seminary "EO" tour group with the Pyramids, January 2012
NORMAL? This morning I have been sorting through some of the memorabilia from our Middle East trip. It was a month ago today that we returned to "life as normal."

But it's not life as normal. Life as normal would assume that nothing has changed. But real life is defined by change - that's what makes it life. Trying to "keep things the same" is actually a struggle against life.

PBS series
Downton Abbey: This idea is beautifully illustrated in the new PBS Masterpiece Theater series, Downton Abbey. We've missed a few episodes, but have kept up with the storyline. This past Sunday, with WWI behind them, Lord Robert Crawley tells anyone who's willing to listen that he wants life to return to "The way things were before...."

Beyond the day-to-day drama that plays out in the lives of the characters, the overarching conflict that drives the Downton Abbey narrative is the societal shift - away from the Victorian/Edwardian Age and into the "Modern World." It's change with the inevitability of continents shifting.

The change is incremental at first, barely registering yet irrepressible, an undercurrent of motion that builds and builds until cracks start to appear and foundations begin to crumble. There's no putting things back together again after that. But the commitment to such studied inertia is a value that drives the dreams and the policies of people like Lord Crawley.

My brother, Geoff, singing with his daughter, Hannah, at a recent family gathering
URGENCY: My life should not, cannot, be the same as it was a couple of months ago - especially having launched 2012 in the manner that we did. This week one of my friends said that he has observed a real shift in Rebekah's preaching in terms of urgency. I pray that the same evidence is plain to see in my work too.

There are other factors at play, of course. There are life-and-death struggles, critical uncertainties regarding my newspaper writing, constant questions as to what's next for me professionally, and so many variables in the mix when it comes to plans for the future.

LIFE = CHANGE: But life, the irrepressible urgency of being, must not only be ready for change but ofttimes at the steering end of the equation.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. - Luke 6:38

The past is interesting... but life necessarily involves change
God's faithfulness is a constant, something that will never change. But, and in the truth of that unchanging promise, our challenge is to live with urgency and integrity. "The way things were before..." is always the wrong direction! Because the promise of Jesus is the New and Living Way.

If we need to do anything to share the Good News of love and redemption in this world, then what we need to do is to demonstrate that we are ALIVE! "Life and light to all [God] brings," the carol reads, "risen with healing in his wings..."

Life... and light - A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over - DEREK

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