Friday, December 17, 2021

Creator and Created

This week I began a new job at a new library branch, and it’s been hard. I don’t do well with change, and this new location is all sorts of different.

There are a lot of semi-religious platitudes that could be spoken into my experience. But instead, I am trying to think of something in the Nativity story that could speak to into this struggle. We are in the middle of Advent, after all.

I could write about Mary and how radically different her life became after the angel Gabriel appeared to her. Or Zechariah, having to completely shift the way he communicated for nine months, not knowing if and when he would be delivered from his muteness. I might even think on Jesus, experiencing a new identity as a human baby after inhabiting the expanse of the heavens.

But I think what I want to focus on is the life-giving thing that I’ve found in the midst of feeling unsettled.

The first day at my new branch I unintentionally began working on a holiday display about an hour and a half before closing. It was a simple and cute sign with a reindeer in the middle. It turns out, I really needed those minutes of designing and arranging, cutting and pasting. I left feeling like things could be okay. All because I allowed my brain to engage in something creative. To build and shape and imagine.

Today when that hour and a half time rolled around, I intentionally began working on a new bulletin board. Taping and stapling, cutting, and arranging. One of the after-school kids even came over and asked if I needed help. So I put him to work taping up the winter trees I had just made.

How does this connect to the Advent narrative?

I think it’s the whole point. God began work on an intricate and highly creative story when He decided (long ago back in the Garden) to send a Redeemer to save His people. Every step of the way was something completely new that God had never done before. From Abraham to David, from Solomon to Josiah, from Jechoniah to Joseph. Unheard of promises, unique leading characters, strange means and methods, the rise and fall of empires, circumstances no one could have imagined, the miraculous and the mundane. All so that the Son would arrive in a manger in Bethlehem.

I don’t think it was an accident that Jesus’ earthly father was a carpenter. Jesus spent the first 30-ish years of his life on Earth learning and creating, working with his hands. And when His ministry began, He plied that same sense of creativity, originality, and joy in everything He said and did. The Word made flesh, Creator, Teacher, Mediator, the Bright and Morning Star, the image of the invisible God, the Way, the Truth and the Life, Immanuel.

To say we serve a creative God is an understatement. How much can we learn from Creator in the flesh?

In her book, Prayer in the Night, Tish Harrison Warren quotes from English author and teacher, Francis Spufford and then goes on to say:
“’We don't have an argument that solves the problem of the cruel world, but we have a story.’ This is why, no matter what we claim to believe or disbelieve, what rises to the surface in our most vulnerable moments is inevitably the story on which we build our lives” (p. 88).
We are weak and vulnerable every day, some moments worse than others. But we are also creative beings, formed by a Creator God, saved by the Firstborn of all Creation. That is our story.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
- Colossians 1:15-17



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