Today is Monday, December 18
Light two purple candles and the pink candle
What’s your favorite movie? How many times have you seen it? Does seeing over and over again make it less interesting?
What happens when you hear the Christmas story over and over again? Do you know it so well that you forget to pay attention?
Read Genesis 1:1
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. [ESV]
Consider this quote: “There are only two stories that make any difference - God’s story and the human story. We all are living out different versions of those two stories with an infinite number of variations. God’s story, of the story of God and man, is simple - God made the world and loved the world, the world got lost, and God has spent the rest of human history trying somehow to bring the world back to himself. That is the story of God and man as I think each one of us has experienced it. It’s really as simple as that and as complex as that.”
Personalize it. How can your thoughts and these readings and prayers help you worship fully, give more, spend less and love all.
Hello! I'm Scott Elingburg and I’ve been a member of CSP for a few years now.
I ready today’s devotion and thought, “This should be easy.” It was anything but!
In my 20s, I probably could have rattled off about 10 or 15 of my favorite movies in ranked order and my 10 favorite directors and screenwriters. But as life progresses and my priorities change, so has what I choose to value—and also how I choose to spend my time. Fifteen or sixteen years ago I remembering thinking on several occasions, “I will love [insert movie here] my whole life.” Now, I’m hard-pressed to come up with two movies I’ve seen in the past two years. (Although, shout out to Shayna and Jacob Borrett for letting us borrow Captain America: Winter Soldier and Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, even if we did never watch them.)
I do, however, love watching Christmas-themed movies, especially at Christmas time. Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase, White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Die Hard (the best Christmas movie ever, in my opinion). All of these bring a kind of comfort in their repeatability and their familiarity. I know what to expect, when to expect it, and I don’t expect anything more or less. It’s a sharp contrast to Christmas, a season built on expectations. And, for the most part, we know what to expect. But that means we can forget that our expectations can disappoint us. Not that Christmas is a disappointment, but our expectations of Christmas end up making us feel… disappointed somehow.
Today’s reading, Genesis, 1:1, I felt I didn’t need to read it because I knew it so well. I knew what to expect, in other words. But I re-read it: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I’m taken aback by its stark, fierce simplicity and also by its enormous complexity. When I was an English teacher many years ago, I used to tell my students, “Pay attention to the details. There are worlds hidden within the details.” But even as I insisted that others follow this advice, I, too, am guilty of not following it. It’s much easier to pay attention to the “big” picture; the largest view set in front of us. It naturally draws our attention and also gives us a sense of comfort, a sense of focus. But typically the big picture swallows the details and then we’ve missed our chance to use our gifts—our minds, our senses—to truly see.
In a way, the first sentence of the Bible is calls us to pay attention, but also to find the (literal, in this case) worlds within the written words. “God created the heavens and the earth”—think about all that encompasses. No, really. Think about what that means to have made and designed the patterns and intricacies of the earth. From the tiniest insect to the stratosphere. And the heavens? It’s nearly impossible to fathom. But we can start small and expand out from there. That’s what the details ask us to do: start small, look outward, find the worlds that are already there and appreciate their part. It makes the “big picture” come to life in ways we might have forgotten about.