by Janet Beard
In January, we often do a jigsaw puzzle at our house. This year was no exception, and we finished a beautiful jungle scene last month. Unfortunately, as we were completing it, we realized that there were two pieces missing. This was a new puzzle—a Christmas gift, in fact—and we were surprised that there would be pieces missing already. So we immediately blamed the cat! After some futile searching, we gave up. A few days later, I took the puzzle apart and put it away.
In the meantime, our Goddaughter had a baby. As I was wrapping the gift for the new baby, I opened our “bow box.” As I lifted the top bow, imagine my surprise when I found a puzzle piece stuck to the tape on the bottom of the bow! And, lo and behold, the other missing piece was stuck to the bottom of a different bow. I laughed out loud with surprise and delight and then tried to figure out how in the world they ended up there. That was not a difficult task, since the puzzle table is also the gift-wrapping table. After I had set out the puzzle earlier in the month, I wrapped some birthday gifts. Instead of moving the puzzle, I worked on top of it and didn’t realize the pieces were stuck when I put the bows away.
Experiences like these sometimes make me pause and wonder if there is a God message, so as I was preparing to write this article, I found myself asking, “What else has gotten stuck to the bottom of our bows, put in a box, and ‘lost’?”
One thing that might be missing is recognition of God’s wondrous miracles that are happening in our churches. During this season of Epiphany, we are reminded that God is in our midst. Many of us are hearing the biblical stories of Jesus’ miracles in worship and/or study. But as we immerse ourselves in Jesus’ life, do we also remember that God’s miracles continue to happen today? They might not look like the miracles in the Bible, so we might not recognize them. Or we might be so busy working at church, or so worried about the future of our church, or so accustomed to what happens at church, that we forget to recognize and acknowledge how miraculous these events really are. I know am guilty of all of the above. God’s miracles get stuck, put in a box, and “lost.”
I recently challenged myself to open my heart and spirit (get unstuck), focus on what’s been happening around me (open the bow box), and FIND God’s wonders again. Here is what I found: A mother’s tears at her baby’s baptism . . . warm shelter and hospitality for a homeless mom and son . . . joy and enthusiasm as a congregation parked cars, served chili, and gave handmade fleece scarves at Hockey Day Minnesota . . . a woman’s humble thanksgiving for the love and support of her church family following the funeral of her husband . . . a renewed sense of call from a lay leader . . . and the list goes on.
These are just some of the things I found and acknowledged and am now rejoicing with God about! God’s wonders abound, and I am overwhelmed again by God’s grace. Recognizing God’s miracles renews both my spirit and my passion for the church of the future.
God’s grace continues to be shared through The United Methodist Church in Minnesota. Let’s reclaim our passion and figure out how to share even more. Let’s start by recognizing God’s miracles in our midst. Let’s embrace God’s wonders. Let’s share the good news. (And don’t blame the cat!)
Janet Beard is a Minnesota Conference lay leader who serves on the Extended Cabinet. She attends New Day United Methodist Church in Big Lake.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church