Monday Matters (December 15th, 2014)


Reflections to start the week
Monday, December 15, 2014 

Things are looking up

I spent this past weekend with about two hundred teenagers from the Diocese of North Carolina, an annual event called Bishop’s Ball, marked by tons of energy and thoughtful planning by the teenagers. The theme for the gathering: Look up. I was invited to talk to the group a couple times. As often happens when I give a talk, after all was said and done, I figured out what I should say to them. It had to do with the many ways we use the phrase “Look up”. So, herewith, four examples of what it means to look up. It means…

To inquire (as in to look up something in the library or on the internet.)

If I was asked to translate the New Testament (nobody asked), I would (at least for a while) change every reference to the word “disciple”. Instead of referring to a disciple, I would speak about a learner. Again and again, I’m reminded in the work I’m doing with churches that in the spiritual journey, we don’t know what we don’t know. The promise of Advent is that something new is on the way. How can we seek it out? How can we make sure we never stop learning?

To re-wire (as in to look up someone with whom you have lost contact.)

Whether due to some rift or drift, where do you need to reconnect with someone important in your life? Where does healing need to take place? What may need to change? One of the refrains in the season of Advent is the call to repent, which really means to change direction, to live life in a different way, in a new way. So much of that call has to do with the relationships in our lives. They get broken all the time. They don’t need to stay that way. Is God calling you to take the initiative, to look up?

To admire (as in to look up to somebody, finding inspiration in qualities or actions worthy of emulation.)

Over the weekend, there was lots of conversation about people we look up to, people who call us to a fuller life of faith. Many people spoke about family members, interestingly enough, about grandparents. Many spoke about saints over centuries who have acted with courage, noting that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. A few spoke about Bible characters. We concluded that God provides examples for us to remind us that while not one of us is perfect, we nevertheless are graced by people who model the walk of faith. Who might that be in your life? Give thanks for them. How by God’s grace might you serve as a model, a witness, an exemplar for somebody else?

To aspire (as in to hold on to hope.)

Advent is about hopefulness. Despite gloom and doom statistics about declining mainline denominations, my weekend with these teenagers was inspiring. It was a privilege to be with them, a group clearly committed to an articulation of their faith in word and action. It gave me hope for what lies ahead. While the news about the state of the nation and the world can seem grim, I am inspired by the depth of commitment of people of faith to racial reconciliation, to peace and justice, to healing, to ministry to the poor. Lord knows we need that commitment. Can you identify signs of hope today? It’s an Advent thing to do.

Look up in these last days of Advent. How is God calling you to inquire, to re-wire, to admire, to aspire?

– Jay Sidebotham

God brought Abram outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then God said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord, and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. -Genesis 15:5,6

They look-ed up and saw a star, shining in the east beyond them far. And to the earth it gave great light, and so they continued both day and night. -From the First Nowell

When Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” -John 6:5

And taking the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd, and all ate and were filled. -Luke 9:16

Very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us form the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. -Mark 16:3,4


Jay SidebothamContact:

Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.