Holy Imagination

This week the daily devotions will focus on how we approach the new year that we have been gifted.  We'll wrestle with what we will do differently, what we will improve, what we'll pick up and what we'll leave behind.  

In his 1566 painting Census At Bethlehem, Pieter Brueghel the Elder sets the arrival of the Holy Family in Bethlehem in the middle of a busy Flemish city.  

If you look closely at the painting you will see Joseph leading a donkey bearing a pregnant Mary.   There is hustle and bustle everywhere around them.  People are working, buying, selling, living and dying--all in a rush.  There is a huge crowd gathered at the inn trying to secure lodging.  

No one takes notice of them.  No one recognizes that the Messiah has come.  They are all too busy to see, too immersed in their own lives to ever imagine that God would arrive in their midst as one of them.  

One of the many things I want to pick up in this new year is a holy imagination.  I want to cultivate the ability to see God at work all around me in ordinary, every day life experiences.  I don't want to miss God's presence because I lack imagination.  

Bernadette Jiwa recently wrote that a lack of imagination is at the heart of why so many of us struggle to find our worth, to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.  She writes: "We've bought into the lie that imagination is for other people who have material proof that they are worthy of it..." 

We've come to believe that we need to just accept things "just as they are," and not to expect too much.  We see the world as we are told to see it, and refuse to see anything else. 

Like the young boy in singer/songwriter Harry Chapin's song "Flowers are Red" we find ourselves reciting over and over again: 
Flowers are red, green leaves are greenThere's no need to see flowers any other wayThan the way they always have been seen. 
As you step more fully into this new year be praying that God would grant you the courage to embrace a holy imagination.  Pray that God would allow you to see God at work in the world, and to know that God is here with us---Jesus is here among us, every day, all the time.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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