A week-long conference is a rare opportunity. It may be tempting, therefore, to think that on a day-to-day basis, and amidst the many trials and frustrations we each face, that new life is an abstraction, a nice idea but not one that I can feel/experience on any given day. Leaving aside the reality that when I focus only on my own feelings I open a wide doorway for Satan to enter and argue that there is no new life, only this life, when I focus only on my own feelings I am less likely to pay attention to signs of life around me, signs of life in others, and signs of new life, new creation in myself.
New life is continually “bustin’ out all over” because Creation is the result of God’s ongoing will. The Bible famously opens the story of creation with “In the beginning God created …,” and this makes it sound like Creation happened. But Creation happens; new life happens all around us and within us, particularly when we offer ourselves to God. This offering of self, which is the response most called for to God’s supreme self-offering of His Son, is what new life looks like, how new life is experienced. When that deepest part of your being which is the image and likeness of God in which He made each one of us is offered by your will to serve God by serving others, He brings forth new life. You experience new life; those to whom you offer yourself experience new life, and the summation of these offerings and experiences far, far exceeds what any one of us could alone ever even wish for.
When June busts out all over we see blossoms and blooms; we see stalks and fruit rising and ripening; we see the young on wing and foot and in the water begin to explore all. When life-everlasting busts out we see that love is genuine and survives death, that beauty is real and endures beyond all ugliness, that good triumphs, that truth conquers lies, and that being is magnified in and by the source and summation of all Being, God. The God who gives all of Himself both calls and empowers us to give of ourselves through the offering of our wills to His. We experience beauty, for example, in the look of another for whom self-giving love is as unexpected as is the magnitude of difference between a bud and a blossom. Just as we long for the blessings of gentle breezes and warm sun; just as we revel in the feel of fresh grass underfoot and the vibrant colors of the fullness of life, may we give thanks that the fullness of life-everlasting is given to us always when we stop, focus outside of ourselves to first experience the self-offering of God, and then in offering of ourselves both give God glory and participate in the glory of new life.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein song may be festive and a big “number”—the song of Creation is one without limits of notes or stanzas— a limitless rejoicing. Happy June; holy June; to God be the glory!
Yours in Christ Jesus,
The Rev. Dr. Karl C. Schaffenburg