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Colossians 3:12-17, Luke 2: 41-52
What Do You Do with an Idea?

Let us pray:
May the message we hear and the meditations of all our hearts bring us closer to expanding life, increasing our actions to love and encouraging our desire to be. Amen

What do you do with an idea?

Especially an idea that’s different, or daring, or a little too big, too odd, too wild?
Do you hide it? Walk away from it? Pretend it isn’t yours?

What do ideas become?

Big things, brave things, smart things, silly things, good things.

Things like stories, artwork, journeys,
inventions, communities, products and cures,
even life-changing events.

Everything you see around you was once an idea.
(the organ, lights, pews, TV, sound system,
tower bell, banners, candles, stain glass, paper….)

Let me tell you a story written by Kobi Yamada
and illustrated by Mae Besom
called What Do You Do with an Idea.

One day, I had an idea.

Where did it come from?
Why is it here?
I wondered, what do you do with an idea?

At first, I didn’t think much of it. It seemed kind of strange and fragile.
I didn’t know what to do with it.
So I just walked away from it. I acted like it didn’t belong to me.

But it followed me.

I worried what others would think.
What would people say about my idea?

I kept it to myself. I hid it away and didn’t talk about it.
I tried to act like everything was the same
as it was before my idea showed up.
But there was something magical about my idea.

I had to admit, I felt better and happier when it was around.
It wanted food. It wanted to play.
Actually, it wanted a lot of attention.
It grew bigger. And we became friends.

I showed it to other people even though I was afraid of what they would say.
I was afraid that if people saw it, they would laugh at it.
I was afraid they would think it was silly.

And many of them did.
They said it was no good. They said it was weird.
They said it was a waste of time and that it would never become anything.

And at first, I believed them. I actually thought about giving up on my idea.
I almost listened to them.

And then I realized, what do they really know?
This is My idea, I thought. No one knows it like I do.
And it’s okay if it’s different, and weird, and maybe a little crazy.

I decided to protect it, to care for it.
I fed it good food. I worked with it, I played with it.
But most of all, I gave it my attention.

My idea grew, and grew. And so did my love for it.
I built it a new house, one with an open roof where it could look up at the stars….
a place where it could be safe to dream.

I liked being with my idea.
It maked me feel more alive, like I could do anything.
It encouraged me to think big…and then, to think bigger.

It shared its secrets with me. It showed me how to walk on my hands.
Because, it said, it is good to have the ability to see things differently.
I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

Then one day, something amazing happened.
My idea changed right before my eyes.
It spread its wings, took flight, and burst into the sky.
I don’t know how to describe it, but it went from being here to being everywhere.
It wasn’t just a part of me anymore… was now a part of everything.

And then, I realized what you do with an idea…. You change the world.

So why did I tell you this story…so that I could tell you this one…

Today Marion read a story about a young Jesus who even at a young age
knew that he had ideas that needed to grow, to be fed, to be explored,
to be questioned by the wise Jerusalem Jewish teachers in order to bring
about future change in the world.

While the Temple leaders may have been impressed with Jesus who at the
age of 12 seemed to be so knowledgeable of the laws, I am sure his parents
who after 3 agonizing days of worrying about their lost son were not so admiring
of his idea to remain in Jerusalem and his lack of concern for their worry.

Top this off with his side comment about why did they have to look for him
and I am sure he was grounded for years!!!!!

Just a few short days ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus. And today the Luke
reading has Jesus growing up fast before our eyes which as we know from our
own experiences as youth and teens and for parents of youth and teens seemed
more like a forever process…that is until graduation day when we look back
and say…now how did this happen.

We waited patiently, we lingered for a while in the mystery of Advent
for this special baby and the anticipation his birth would have on the world.

We want the joy, hope and love to last longer. We want to take care and watch him grow.
We want the feeling that centers around Christmas to remain.
We want Peace on Earth and the power of giving to not go away.
But we know that we have to let go, we have to move forward….for Jesus is about the future.
So what were you doing with your life during your growing up years?

Were you devising the working of software for computers like Steve Jobs co-founder of Apple at 13?

Were you putting together a proposal to change a city policy on snowball
   throwing like Dane Best in Severance, Colorado at the age of 9?

Were you writing your own songs like singer Taylor Swift at age 14
   or Mozart a music composer at the age of 5?

Were you questioning the top leaders in your faith community like Jesus at the age of 12?

Some people and some communities seem to be programed to be idea seekers
even before they know how to go about nurturing an idea.
For some, creating ideas begins at a very young age, for others it happens later in life.
Harland Sanders didn’t develop his major franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken until his retirement years!
The real mystery is what moves, what happens inside a person,
inside a community to transform them in the first place.

It seems that a number of things need to come together to inspire a movement.

- The more resources, experiences, interactions and connections one has, the better an idea will grow.
- Finding different opportunities for talking to others, internalizing, exploring an idea is needed
      so as to understand and unlock new ideas.
- Zooming out an idea beyond themselves makes one’s idea more expansive.
- One needs to capture an idea as it comes rather than hoping the idea finds them.
- Not being afraid to speak out their idea, for clarification and see if it comes back in a
      new way is very powerful.
- Ask lots of questions, listen to answers, and be observant of new angles and new directions.
- Recognize that there are infinite answers and viewpoints to every challenge.
- See valuable ideas as ones that help solve problems, brings life for people.

We know that Jesus lived during a time that was very harsh. Poverty, fear,
injustices of many forms were visible all around him.
It was a time that was not conducive to idea suggestioning, especially when it came
to ideas about making people’s lives better, brought about change or came from
a depressed group of people, or arose because of a birth of a baby.

Jesus came to us as the light and good news of the world bearing the reality
and visibility of a God of life, love and courage to be all that we can be.

Simeon and Anna, two elderly sages, could see this when Jesus as a baby was presented at the temple,
the leaders of the synagogue were amazed by his knowledge of the law at age 12,
and his mother Mary held all that the angels had spoken to the shepherds about him in her thoughts.

There are very few stories told about Jesus’s growing up years.
He disappears back into the fabric of his hometown after the temple story.

For perhaps 2 more decades Jesus is in an out of the way place, far removed from
the centers of religion and politics, in the care of ordinary people.
It was here that he continued to grow in body and wisdom, gaining favor with God and man.
It was here that Jesus made visible to all his experience of God in how he lived,
how he loved and his sense of universal oneness.
His became a journey that was radical, faithful and life and world changing.

A journey that still captures us today.
As the United Churches of Langley we continue our journey through the mystery of Christmas
as we wonder and imagine our mission together, in our community and out in the world.

As we look back at the year that was 2018 and look forward to 2019 may we envision
what we do and who we are as followers of Jesus striving to live, love and be the experience of God.

And in the words of Ann Weens:

It is not over, this birthing.
There are always newer skies into which God can throw stars.

When we begin to think that we can predict the Advent God,
that we can box the Christ in a stable in Bethleham, that’s the time
that God will be born, in a place we can’t imagine and won’t believe.
Those who wait for God watch with their hearts and not with their eyes…
listening, always listening for angel words.
And so I can hardly wait to see what future words and ideas we come up with
and do together as the United Churches of Langley.

And Happy New Years!