Wednesday, December 31, 2008

modest expectations

Just over a year ago, we moved to a suberb of Chicago, Illinois.

This year, Chicago is ranked first (possibly second) for the most murders in a city in 2008. And the state's governor has been accused of trying to sell his appointment to replace Obama's senate seat. This, in the midst of national and global financial meltdown. What a great place to be, eh.

I was reflecting on this as I began to think about the New Year.

In many ways, my expectations for the new year seem quite ordinary and unexceptional. I hope and pray that we'll be able to visit with our children and grandchildren, despite that fact that they are scattered to the four corners of this country. I hope and pray that our daily work will continue, investing in the next generation of Christian servants and seeking to reduce homelessness. I hope and pray that our lifestyle will be simple, but marked by generosity, prudence, and delight. I hope and pray that we will grow in grace and fellowship with God and our neighbors.

And then it occured to me: in a world of financial meltdown, political chaos, and killing violence, if we could stay focused on modest expectations like these, our lives would in fact shine like stars in this, our local universe.

How extraordinary.


MattyA said...

This is an interesting thought. A reminder to return to simple hopes and modest expectations is something we always need to hear. But what about when those modest expectations are thwarted by the big problems of our day?

Living in SE Michigan I hear more about the big three than anything else. I preached New Year's Eve at the CRC in Dearborn, and I was deeply saddened by stories of congregants dealing with layoffs, foreclosure, uncertainty, and serious financial struggle. I was also encouraged by their perseverance and hope, but that's another blog post.

The reason they face these problems is a global financial meltdown that I, for one, don't even understand. Like you, Bill, I want my life to be one of simplicity, generosity, prudence, and grace, but if I, and others, live that way, will my friends in Dearborn find jobs and homes to replace the ones they've lost?

I guess I'm trying to say it's not enough to shine like stars in our community - we need to transform our communities. We need to change the societal structures that have caused the lost jobs, the high murder rates, the government corruption. Maybe that's what you're saying too, since transformation starts with the Holy Spirit's work in our own lives, transforming our personal hopes and expectations.

Anyway, thanks for the post. It made me reflect on my own hopes for this upcoming year, never a bad exercise.

Willis said...

G'day MattyA!
It's always good to hear from you and I'm honoured to have you post a comment on the blog.
You write: "We need to transform our communities."
Increasingly, it appears to me that we're the ones who are being transformed. (Barna's data say Christians are unlike other Americans when it comes to all the "ideals" of the American way of life.) In light of which, even modest expectations of living otherwise, if achieved, would be a bright spot in an otherwise bleak reality.
Is this enough?
Honestly, I don't know. But I rest in the hope that God often uses what is small and marginal to great kingdom effect.