Meditation Monday – Stretched

by Christine Sine

by Christine Sine

This has been a stretching year. Can one grow in old age as much as when young I wonder? Can I continue to learn and expose myself to new and stretching ideas and thoughts? This year certainly suggests that I can.

I have been stretched by our attendance at the local Mennonite Church, by seeing Anabaptist theology lived out in a challenging and convicting way. The call for a just peace in our lives and in our world for all people and for all creation really resonates with me. I have been stretched by Drew Jackson’s poetry penetrating my heart, especially as I move slowly through Advent and towards the birth of Christ:

But God speaks through wombs,
Birthing prophetic utterances….

of this unbelieving religion
that masquerades as faith.
Divine favour is placed
on what we have disgraced.

Such profound and stretching word that keep resonating in my heart.

I am being stretched too by my own aging and the aging of those around me. Last week I lost a very dear friend – the first burn specialist to come to the mercy ship Anastasis, not just to do burn surgery but to bless us with gifts of computers, medical equipment, even generators. He and his wife embraced me as a “fifth daughter’ welcoming me into their family in a very special way.

I am being stretched too by adventures into new projects – a new podcast “The Liturgical Rebels” coming at the beginning of 2024.

Life stretches us every step of the way if we will open ourselves to the pain and the grief of it, as well as to the joy and the wonder of it. To be stretched is to enlarge the capacity of our hearts for life with all its joys and sorrows.

Mary and Elizabeth were both stretched during the events we remember at Advent. Their bodies were stretched as the babies grew within them and needed more space. Their faith in a just and righteous God must also have been stretched as they faced unexpected and challenging pregnancies.

Eve too must have felt very stretched during her first pregnancy too and she had no mother, no midwife, no one who had gone before to tell her what would happen. I love this picture by Sister Grace Remington which captures both the vulnerability and the hope of that stretching.

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And the marks of that stretching would have remained on their bodies and in their hearts for the rest of their lives. And the hopes they cherished for their offspring would have lived with them too. Yet all of them saw at least one of their offspring die prematurely. Hope, vulnerability, stretching all embraced in their stories.

Pregnancy doesn’t only stretch a woman’s body. It does actually also stretches her heart to accommodate the needed increase in blood flow to nurture the baby.

Is my heart also being stretched by this Advent I wonder? Evidently just a few hours exercise a week makes all our hearts grow, so as I take more steps on the journey God sets before me, and keep up regular disciplines that exercise both my body, my mind and my soul, my heart grows too. A larger heart means more of the love of God to fill it. A larger heart means a greater ability to walk closer to the God of all creation, the Eternal One, the ever-present and caring One, the One who is revealed in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Will you allow yourself to be stretched to hold more of God this Advent season?

Stretch me, God Almighty,
Enlarge my heart,
With the presence of your Son, 
Jesus Christ our redeemer, our liberator,
The One who sets us free.
Stretch me with your presence within,
Enlarge my heart, my spirit,
My capacity to hold,
What you are growing within me.
Stretch me, God Almighty,
With a love for peace and justice and righteousness.
Stretch me with compassion and generosity and love.
Stretch me with a desire for more of you. 

(c) Christine Sine


December 9, An Advent Quiet Day Retreat with Christine Sine.
Join Christine for a virtual retreat celebrating quiet anticipation and focusing on experiencing a meaningful Christmas. She will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflection that will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season. Register to participate here.

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