It is my belief that the Christian life of faith and discipleship is primarily a life of imagination. We live in a world that is at the same time, good and broken, healing and hurting, fully redeemed and very, very much imperfect. When I say that the Christian life is a life of imagination, I mean that at the same time as we live in this world, we are called to imagine a better, kinder, more perfect and more generous world. We are called to imagine a deeply embodied communion of all people with all of creation with God. We are called to imagine another way beyond what we see in front of us.
This call to imagination is part of the reason why I have very little patience for Christians who say things like “well that’s not how things work in the real world” or “that’s just the way things are sweetheart, get used to it.” The Christianity we profess is very much attached to and embedded in the real world. It comes from a world so real that the main figure of our faith—the person Jesus—was executed by the government for spearheading a growing social movement. His words, his parables, his teachings were not window dressing on a dysfunctional social order, rather they were in opposition to it and he paid dearly for it.
What Jesus offered people in addition to healing and food and hope, was imagination. Imagine a world where the laborer who shows up at the end of the day is paid the same as the one who shows up at the beginning. Imagine a world where it seems worthwhile to leave behind 99 sheep and seek after the lost one. Imagine a world where 5000 hungry people can find enough to eat where they had thought there wasn’t enough. Imagine a vision for a new world that is so bracing that it causes you or I to drop everything and follow. This is what Jesus offered.
So, the work of imagination is worth our time and our attention, not only incidentally to our Christian faith but in the midst of it. And the best way to cultivate an imagination is to practice. This Lenten Daily Devotional is the result of that practicing—creative reflections written, poetic, artistic, photographic, culinary, and more.
I hope you enjoy the offerings of your fellow community members. Their names are appended to their offerings—do consider dropping them a note of appreciation for what they offered on the day we get to it.
Consider, too bringing your own imagination to the offering from each day. What does each offering spark for you? What images or ideas or memories does each day’s word call to mind? How does another person’s imagination provoke your own? As much as we can practice imagination on our own, perhaps it is in collaboration with others that we can stretch the bounds of what can be imagined. I know it’s true for me, and I bet it’s true for you, too.
Here’s to some good imagining this Lent. I hope you enjoy.