By the time we sit down to read this letter, the bright-light glory of Christmas and Jesus’s arrival will have passed. Also behind us is Epiphany, the season of wonder and hope when we stood in awe at the door that is between us and the light of the world – beautifully depicted in Hunt’s iconic painting. Some of us will walk hesitantly, some confidently, but all preparing to open and walk through a door that will lead us into new and green pastures and live-giving still waters.
We joined our hope to that of the three wise men – those far-off ‘gentiles’ who joined the ‘out-on-the-edge’ shepherds – dazzled by Jesus, the King of Glory who came to be that light which would lighten all gentiles and draw in those yet to experience the mystery of being part of God’s great love story.
What an amazing door to open – and an even more amazing one to walk through. A door is symbolic of times of great change – you know the saying, ‘As one door closes, another one opens…’
Doors lead us to new places of course – but there is usually a ‘holding-place’ – a place of transition. Indeed, moving straight into new and dazzling places can be a shock to the system – too amazing, too dazzling – we need a time of adjustment and reorientation – a time to gather and prepare.
And that is just what a vacancy is and indeed my own curacy has been – a ‘holding-place’ – a space to catch breath, learn and discern, to grow and prepare for the walk through the door that leads to new beginnings, new possibilities, new horizons – new joys!
But of course, walking into the new is not without some sadness at leaving the old. But fear not, nothing is left behind in God’s world – only transformed and renewed and made fit for the ongoing journey towards deeper faith and trust as we follow that great and loving Light of Life.
In our holding places – vacancy and curacy – we will have accumulated dear friendships, some great moments of glory, some less glorious moments of failure, some successes and sorrows, some joys and some toughies – the mix-bag of experiences that accumulate along this Way to eternity. But through it all our holding-places have been sanctified and have been places of safety in which to explore how God is showing his love and delight for us and how he wants to live out that Gospel love in a community where some people are yet to experience such a love.
We do this by following Jesus. The ‘closed’ doors of Bethlehem were firmly shut on Jesus that first Christmas but the stable-door of humility was flung wide open for all to enter – shepherds, wise men – and of course ourselves. Jesus – the greatest invitation and door-opener of all!
You and I, boldly, faithfully and lovingly together, have walked through the doors of vacancy and curacy where our Lord is standing tall and strong, knocking on the door of our hearts, calling us and inviting us to go further into a 2018 year of new beginnings that he is waiting to guide and lead us onto.
‘Look!’ he says ‘Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in and we will share a meal as friends.’ (Revelation 3:20)
May you hear the knock of God’s love at the door of your own heart this New Year – that 2018 be a year of light, hope and peace for us all.
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