Thriving In Between Times

Andy Wade

In many ways this week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is a week caught in the middle. In the Christian calendar the new year started with Advent. And yet by the Gregorian calendar the old year is still coming to a close. It seems this is an excellent opportunity to look both backward and forward.

As Christians, there’s another way we are caught in between times. Christ has come and his Kingdom has infiltrated the present time. The world is not the same, as God’s power and love shatter the darkness and open for us a new way to live. And yet there is still brokenness, pain, division. All is not well, even though everything has changed. We see this reality in the world around us, and we see it within ourselves.

This week between Christmas and the New Year reminds us of this mystery: Christ is born yet the impact of this truth has not yet fully transformed our world. Now is a time for honesty as we wrestle with how to unravel what this means. The Apostle Paul captured this well when he lamented:

 For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. Romans 7:17-20 – The Message

Jesus has died and risen. The Holy Spirit fills our lives. And yet, we still struggle right along with the world around us. Let’s take this time to reflect. But let’s not reflect as those who have no hope. Let’s look for God’s in-breaking into our lives and communities. Let’s reflect in ways that empower us to trust God more even when we don’t get it right. Let’s reflect in ways that move us closer to God’s intentions for shalom and further from our inclination toward self-interest.

Looking back, where have you seen God at work this past year:

  • In your life?
  • In your family?
  • In your neighborhood and community?
  • In God’s world?

At each intersection of faith and life mentioned above, what has made your participation in this change possible? What has hindered your participation?

As you reflect on this, look forward. How might you better join the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom during the coming year? What do you need to be aware of and change to more courageously and effectively join with God and others to bring the light, joy, peace, love, hospitality, and celebration of God’s Kingdom:

  • In your life?
  • In your family?
  • In your neighborhood and community?
  • In God’s world?

This short reflection is not so much an invitation to make New Year’s resolutions as it is an invitation to a deeper level of discipleship, spiritual formation, and living more intentionally into the Kingdom of God already present yet still coming in its fullness. This is also an invitation to join with others in discerning the way forward. We do not walk alone, we walk together as communities of faith.

Seize the moment, this moment in between times. Take advantage of this holy space between Christmas and the New Year and discover new ways to spread the love of God to the world around you.