What Really Matters?

We are in the second week of Advent—the oddly named four-week season when the church prepares for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

I gave Northminster’s staff and leaders a booklet of daily Advent meditations by Richard Rohr. It’s called Preparing for Christmas and you can find it here.

I’m still mulling over a paragraph we read last week.

Basically, you can translate “the kingdom” as “the Big Picture….” The kingdom of God, or reign of God is how things objectively, truly and finally are. Jesus is always inviting us to live in the final and full picture, and not to get lost in momentary dramas, hurts or agendas.

And then Richard asks the question that has been nagging at me, prodding me, encouraging me for a week now. No matter what we are facing, he suggests we should always ask:

“In the light of eternity will this really matter?”

It’s a question I don’t ask nearly enough, and I’m guessing neither do you.

In the light of eternity will this activity, this concern, this worry, this decision, this frustration, this plan, this thing that I am spending time and energy fretting about really matter?

It strikes me as one of those questions that has the power to open our eyes and help us catch a glimpse of Jesus’ Big Picture.

Reflecting on this, I remembered a story Anne Lamott tells. In her amazing book Traveling Mercies she writes about how she caught sight of the Big Picture.

Anne Lamott

The context was her hair. She was trying to decide whether to get dreads; she had determined that dreads meant she was “no longer going to play by the rules of mainstream white beauty.” While she was trying to decide what to do about her hair, she remembered something her best friend said right before she died:

She was in a wheelchair, wearing a wig to cover her baldness. We were at Macy’s. I was modeling a short dress for her that I thought my boyfriend would like. But then I asked whether it made me look big in the hips, and Pammy said, as clear and kind as a woman can be, “Annie? You really don’t have that kind of time.” And—slide trombone, bells, rim shot—I got it, deep in my being…. How much longer am I going to think about my hair more often than about things in the world that matter.

For me it’s not a change of hairstyle that is causing the chatter in my mind, and my guess is it’s not for you either. But for all of us, something is hogging bandwidth; something  trivial is jamming our circuits, slowing us down, and making our world really narrow.

Richard and Anne are saying that an alarm should go off deep inside when we start fretting about things that don’t really matter and warn us, “You really don’t have that kind of time!”

What a gift to be reminded us as we prepare for Christmas that we should always be asking ourselves, “In the light of eternity will this really matter?”

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A couple of friends have said they would like to have an ongoing discussion about the Advent devotionals. Please feel free to leave comments to get a discussion going.

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4 Responses to What Really Matters?

  1. Wendy McCaig says:

    I needed that. Thanks. Looking forward to just having fun tonight at Friday Night Live – no worries allowed tonight. Hope to see you there.

  2. Beth says:

    This was one of the readings that grabbed me this week, too. I had a very demanding week at work, and was preoccupied about how things would go. It was such a relief to think of this question – it helped me carry the week much more lightly, remembering that in the long run my “big event” would actually be forgotten.

  3. Beth says:

    p.s. Love Anne Lamott!

  4. Jo says:

    Sammy, I loved this message. It was really applicable to my life right now. So much of what we obsess over doesn’t matter. Life is about living fully in the moment 🙂 Loved the Anne Lamott story, too.

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