God of New Alternatives
In an effort to expand my own language to use in leading in worship as well as my own personal devotions, I’ve recently been reading from the prayer book of the Anglican Church in New Zealand.
The language is intended to reflect New Zealand life and culture, and is, not surprisingly, marked by particularly beautiful images from nature. The Call to Confession we’ve used in worship each week during Lent comes from this New Zealand tradition:
Lord our God, in our sin we have avoided your call. Our love for you is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early. Have mercy upon us. Deliver us from judgement. Bind up our wounds and revive us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“Our love for you is like a morning cloud, like the dew the goes away early.” Beautiful.
This morning I looked ahead to some prayers for Easter, and was struck by one blessing in particular, which might be used as a benediction at the end of worship:
May Christ who out of defeat brings new hope and new alternatives, bring you new life…
We are “programmed” to death as a society. So much of our lives is dictated by rhythms that feel beyond our control. Starting as early is age 4 (and in some cases earlier than that) our children’s lives are ordered and programmed by the school calendar, and the endless list of so many “activities.” This only intensifies as we get older, and the programming of school gives way to the programming of our jobs; old activities giving way to new ones.
Our lives here at church are no less “programmed.” We have children’s programming and youth programming. Adult education programming, missions programming, music programming—you get the point. Both in church and the world, our answer to almost any question is to create a new program. So it’s no wonder that our lives feel fixed and short and beyond our control.
Into this arena of endless programming comes the God of “new alternatives.”
A God who offers the promise of a different future—a future of possibility, not program. A future of surprise and wonder, not assessment and advancement.
Isn’t this the truth of the resurrection? That not even death—that final program—is assured? Isn’t the Good News the promise that the world is something more than its logical conclusion? That our lives and circumstances are not fixed, but instead are alive with potential? Isn’t the way of Christ to live in this promise and seek out ways to make it evermore true in our own lives and the lives of others?
It’s a way we’ve done our best to live into through this season of Lent, and will celebrate together in just a few weeks on Easter morning, when we proclaim that the only thing “fixed” in this world is the transforming love of God.