A Tradition of Prayer
Part of my family's tradition every year is to spend some prayer time at the cemetery where the old folks are buried. It's quite a different tradition from everybody else. Who wants to spend an hour at the cemetery praying when the whole world is getting ready to party and meet the New Year? Sometimes I ask myself why I let myself go through it for the past how many years. But it's a tradition that I have been learning to love and look forward to. For me, paying respects to the old folks before we start a new year is an act of reverence and remembrance. I draw strength from remembering the stories of the lives of those who have gone before me. It reminds me that I come from a wealth of collective experiences and no matter how difficult a circumstance might be, I can look to the lives of my forefathers and see that they have walked this earth fulfilled in what they have contributed to the world.
Every year, I lead my family into prayer and sometimes I break out into a song of worship. This year I just led them into a contemplation of something I recently read again from "Forgotten Among Lilies".
We need a theology which teaches us that even though we cannot unscramble an egg, God's grace lets us live happily and with renewed innocence far beyond any egg we may have scrambled. We need a theology that teaches us that God does not just give us one chance, but that every time we close a door he opens another one for us. We need a theology that challenges us not to make mistakes, that takes sin seriously, but which tells us that when we sin, when we make mistakes, we are given the chance to take our place among the broken, among those whose lives are not perfect, the loved sinners, those for whom Christ came. We need a theology which tells us that a second, third, fourth and fifth chance are just as valid as the first one.
We need a theology that tells us that mistakes are not forever, that they are not even for a lifetime, that time and grace wash clean, that nothing is irrevocable. Finally, we need a theology which teaches us that God loves us as sinners and that the task of Christianity is not to teach us how to live, but to teach us how to live again, and again, and again.
I picked this part because I thought about our collective experiences and how every year we often long for better things and we long for hope to come alive but it seems that we never quite encounter it as profoundly as we would've hoped for. For my family at least, who always seem to cycle around the same issues year after year.
It baffles me that such a gifted bunch of people who inherited quite a lot of special things from the old folks would always feel like cowering in the face of opportunity or a call to dream something bigger than themselves and to share a vision that can be appreciated by all.
I pray that those who intersect our lives will come to know the grace that refreshes and renews lives every minute, every moment. And that this year we will come to know what it feels like to really be able to live again and again and again.