Can you imagine a world of goodness and beauty and wholeness? Can you imagine a world of abundance and generosity and compassion where the hungry are fed, the excluded are embraced, and justice comes for the rejected and despised? Can you imagine a world in which everything is made new and the wonder of God’s presence fills everyone and everything? It is hard to imagine, isn’t it? Especially in the challenging times in which we live? Yet as we look forward to the season of Advent and Christmas, that is part of the wonder we are looking forward to. God’s son birthed into our world as a human child is our promise of a future in which the goodness and beauty of God’s original creation is restored and all creation is made whole. Now that is something to get excited about and something to give thanks for every day!
In a recent Yes magazine article, Building a Beautiful Climate Future Begins with Imagination, I was introduced to the concept of world building, “…the process of creating an imaginary world for a work of fiction. It’s the practice of taking the ideas in your head, the sensations from your imagination, and allowing people to see what you see, feel what you feel. It’s as much about creating new things as it is about destroying old structures and assumptions. It’s an art, not a science.” Its use should not be confined to fiction.–it’s an inspiring tool to use as we prepare to celebrate Advent and Christmas too.
Through trauma and shame we unconsiously learn that God is harsh, maybe even cruel and indifferent to our sufferings and the painful cries of the unjustly treated and the polluted earth. But what if we imagine a future of beauty and wonder and goodness. How would our desire to live into that future change who we are and how we move forward.
Sit and think about the world in which we now live: the glimpses of beauty and goodness that inspire and encourage us each day interlaced with the ugliness and despair of injustice, inequality, pandemics, climatic catastrophes like fires and storms and droughts. How do you feel about our world and the people that inhabit it? How do you interact with it? What do you feel you could change? What do you feel is beyond your control? (Adapted from Building a Beautiful Climate Future Begins with Imagination )
Now close your eyes, sit and imagine our world as God created it and that wonderful divine response each day: “It was beautiful and good.” (Gen 1:25 The Voice )”
In his book A New Heaven and A New Earth Richard Middleton suggests that human stewardship was supposed to transform the whole earth into a fitting place not just for humankind to dwell, but also for God to dwell. Can you imagine it? God’s longs for a beautiful place in which to dwell and walk once more with humankind. To me that is absolutely incredible. Even more incredible is the coming of Jesus into our world to make this happen.
So with this in mind, read in Isaiah 65:17-25 in the Passion Translation. Here is a vivid and beautiful glimpse of the world that God is once more giving birth to, a birth made possible through the coming of Jesus into our world in human form. Talk about awe and wonder!
“Look! I am creating
entirely new heavens and a new earth![a]
They will be so wonderful
that no one will even think about the old ones anymore!
18 As you wait for the reality of what I am creating,
be filled with joy and unending gladness!
Look! I am ready to create Jerusalem
as a source of sheer joy,
and her people, an absolute delight!
19 I will rejoice in this new Jerusalem
and find great delight in my people.
You will no longer hear
the sound of weeping or cries of distress.
20 No baby will die in infancy there,
and everyone will live out their full lifespan.[b]
For when centenarians die,
they will be considered youngsters,
and anyone who dies earlier
will be considered of no account.
21-22People will build their own houses to live in,
and they will not be taken over by someone else.
They will plant their own vineyards to enjoy,[c]
and they will not be confiscated by someone else.
They will live long lives, like age-old trees,[d]
and my chosen ones will enjoy to the fullest
the work of their hands throughout their lives.
23 They will neither work in vain for someone else,
nor will their children face disaster
for they will be children and grandchildren
who are blessed by Yahweh.
24 Before they even call out to me,
I will answer them;
before they’ve finished telling me what they need,
I’ll have already heard.
25 The wolf and the lamb will graze side by side
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and the serpent’s food will be dust.
There will be neither violence nor murder
on my entire holy mountain of Zion,” says Yahweh.
Close your eyes and imagine this world as the world you want to live in. What do you value in this world? How do people treat each other? Can you hear the laughter and the joy? Can you imagine the delight as people share and care for each other? In this world how do you think people treat God’s creation and as a result how does it feel and look?
Memorize your images of this world, and imagine Jesus being born into our broken and ravaged world and walking beside each of us encouraging us to bring this new world into being.
Isn’t it wonderful to think about that? However, for it to have an impact on our world we need to keep coming back here until we make it real. When you open your eyes, ask yourself: Is there something from that world I can bring into this one not just over the Advent and Christmas season but every day of the new year too?
As I wrote this today, I was reminded of the Advent and Christmas cards I use each year that encourage me to make changes that can bring more glimpses of God’s beautiful and good world into being. One of them says
Let Christ be born,
Not far away in distant ages,
But in every heart and place,
Where love and faith are found.
Let Christ be born,
and find in us his Bethlehem.
So let’s rekindle the wonder of the coming of Christ and all the incredible dimensions of what that means. Take time, make room and Walk in Wonder Through Advent this year.
Join Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin on Saturday, November 20th 9:30-12:30 PST (check my timezone) for an interactive, multi-sensory, creative retreat focused on the WONDER OF ADVENT! This retreat will be LIVE via zoom, but if you are unable to join live, you can sign up to watch the recording and participate later! Come with a creative heart, be inspired, have fun, and reconnect with the WONDER of the season. And did you know? If you have purchased a course from us before, we offer a discount. We also offer a group discount for groups over 5. Email us to get the code!
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