The Growing Edge

All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born;
all around us life is dying and life is being born.
The fruit ripens on the tree,
The roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth
Against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit.
Such is the growing edge!
It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung,
The one more thing to try when all else has failed,
The upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor.
This is the basis of hope in moments of despair,
The incentive to carry on when times are out of joint
And men have lost their reason, the source of confidence
When worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash.
The birth of a child — life’s most dramatic answer to death —
this is the growing edge incarnate.
Look well to the growing edge!Howard Thurman (1899-1981)

There is something sacred about traditions. Traditions help us to remember and celebrate moments that matter in our lives. But more than remembrance and celebration, traditions can transport us through time and connect us with realities past—realities that can inspire our present and move us toward the future.

Advent and Christmas are some of the most beautiful traditions of the Christian faith. These seasons offer a reminder of the reality of God’s presence in our midst. Our liturgical journey through these seasons transports us to moments in time beyond our lived experience, connecting us to the everlasting truth of God’s love, grace, and presence in our lives. The older I become, the more I have come to appreciate that our Liturgical Year begins with these seasons. After living through the challenges of any given year, what a wonderful gift to be reminded that God’s work in our world and lives persists despite the challenges the world sends our way.

We cannot escape the growing edge and the reality that much of the green we so long to see is being formed silently in the depths of hearts that lie beyond our sight..
If you follow the Revised Common Lectionary through these seasons, you may have been challenged with texts that seem to reflect the anxiety of our times as much as the hope, love, joy, and peace the season brings. But this dichotomy is precisely the beauty of the season—the growing edge spoken by the great mystic Howard Thurman. We constantly live in the midst of darkness and light, disappointment and hope, endings and new beginnings, death and new life. But the breakneck speed of life often prevents us from being present to observe and appreciate this grand work. We dismiss the gifts of darkness and rush toward light. We ignore the pains and lessons found in disappointments, dashing to attain a less-than-lasting hope. We fail to see that endings offer opportunities for new beginnings and forget that through death, we attain new and everlasting life.

Now, here we stand at the growing edge of a new year, receiving yet another invitation to be present, to hear familiar words anew, and to embody all that is hopeful and good. Here we are, invited to let go of our preconceptions and embrace the gifts of community and life with others. Here we are, called to offer Christ to a hurting world—one neighborhood at a time. And while this is a sacred calling, it is not always an easy task—it matters not if you find yourself preaching under a large steeple, one-room church, historic building, community center, movie theatre, college campus, hospital room, military base, or out in the streets. We cannot escape the growing edge and the reality that much of the green we so long to see is being formed silently in the depths of hearts that lie beyond our sight, much as roots work silently in the darkness of the earth.

But as Thurman reminds us, do not despair, beloved friends. Look well to the growing edge! Seek to be present to the divine, yourself, and others through this season. Remember our story and the great promise that God is indeed at work making all things new.

May we all look well to the growing edge and receive the hope, joy, and peace God offers us through Christ.

Peace and Blessings,