Prayer of the Children

When we page through our Bibles reading with a lens of our modern-day, western eyes, we often find ourselves perplexed, confused, or perhaps disgusted, particularly when reading the Old Testament. Death, blood, killing, war, and many more culturally confusing narratives fill these pages. Yet, we also we find a God who is sovereign, and in this ancient book, we find meaning, hope, and promise.

Many people (not just Christians, I might add) are deeply troubled hearing the recent ruling in NY, allowing women to now have late-term abortions. Proponents of this ruling argue there are parameters to this law, but those are vague.

It is interesting: the world we live in increasingly seems to mirror some of the tragic, perplexing, and outright disgusting stores we read in the Old Testament. Yet, instead of babies sacrificed to ancient gods, babies are now sacrificed on an altar of narcissism, selfishness, and in the name of being an educated, “modern”, forward-thinking society. BABIES ARE BEING KILLED and people smiling, rejoicing, and clapping about it. Celebrating it in the name of “women’s rights.”

When did life cease to be sacred? I suppose the answer is… slowly, for a while.

May God have mercy on us, weary sinners. May God have mercy on our nation.

IMG_2379.jpg

Prayer of the Children, by Kurt Bestor, Sam Cardon
Can you hear the prayer of the children?
On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
Turning Heavenward, toward the light
Crying Jesus, help me
To see the morning light of one more day
But if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take
Can you feel the hearts of the children?
Aching for home, for something of their very own
Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to,
But hope for a better day, a better day
Crying Jesus, help me
To feel the love again in my own land
But if unknown roads lead away from home,
Give me loving arms, away from harm
Can you hear the voice of the children?
Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
Blood of the innocent on their hands
Crying Jesus, help me
To feel the sun again upon my face,
For when darkness clears I know you’re near,
Bringing peace again
Dali cujete sve djecje molitive?
Can you hear the prayer of the children?
Advertisements

Darkness & Light

With Advent just around the corner beginning on Sunday, December 2, a few friends and I have a gift for you this season: a free, reflective devotional. Collaboration across oceans, made possible by technology, this is our labor of love to friends and family.

During this busy time of the year, make space for reflection as we ponder once again the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Darkness & Light Advent Devotional 2018

reflections on taking chances

I was 23.
April 2008.
Nearly a year of wonderings and wanderings after graduating from college.
I was ready.
Ready to spread my wings and fly,
ready to take a chance.

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 12.24.20 PM.png

In 2007 I graduated with a degree in music.  In my young, naivete I thought I would immediately be hired in full-time music ministry and that church job offers would simply flood in as soon as I walked across the stage with my diploma.

(I was wrong, by the way).

That summer I travelled to India for a two-month long mission trip.  In many ways, that trip changed my life.  My first time overseas, my first time fully immersed in an eastern culture, and the first time I really caught a glimpse of life abroad serving a God who isn’t American.  A God of all nations.

I returned home more sick than I’ve ever been in my life, and still had no job and no direction for my life.

The difficult months that followed shook me to my core: extreme culture shock, depression, meandering and wanderings…  but then in April of 2008, everything changed.  You see, when I returned from India, my team spent several days in Bangkok, Thailand debriefing.  I had a distant feeling in my heart, a feeling that I would return to Thailand one day.

Ten years ago, in April 2008, I interviewed for a Music Teacher position in Bangkok, Thailand.  A few weeks later, I boarded a small airplane with 2 large suitcases (and a very heavy carry on) and moved to the other side of the world.

I didn’t know a single soul.

But that decision – that chance.  It changed my life forever.

The friendships forged during that year forever changed me, the students I taught showed me what compassion looked like with hands and feet, and living in another culture taught me how to be empathetic.

That chapter of my life opened up doors for me to later serve in full-time Worship ministry, and the relationships there inspired me to pursue seminary.  Many of the co-teachers I taught with are still my friends today.

The thing about taking chances is this: when the Holy Spirit of God prompts us to take steps of faith, or “chances” in our human thinking, the greater chance to take is to ignore that prompting and taking the wider, easier path.

I’m so glad I took that chance.

S6300051India, June 2007

S6300243.jpgKolkata, India, July 2007

IMG_1493_7Thailand, October 2008

IMG_5313Our street, Nonthaburi, Bangkok, Thailand

fullness of time

The following is an excerpt from the free Advent devotional guide “Silence and Sound.”  Download your free copy today here.

Week 3 Day 20: Fullness of Time
by meridith matson

In the fullness of time
Not too early, not too late
Time, pregnant with expectation; time, pregnant with hope

The wall, rebuilt
Captives return home
Israel, no longer dispersed, living together in the land
The last prophet, Malachi says, “remember the Law of Moses”[1]
and a promise, to “send Elijah to Israel before the day of the Lord.”[2]

Then, silence as they listened.
No more words from heaven,
just deafening silence.
As they strained to hear.

Has God forgotten us?
Have we sinned so much that God turned his back on us?
No.  In silence, God waited too.
God waited for the “Pleroma”- fullness of time.

God waits, as Israel listens.
“When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the law,
to redeem those under law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”[3]

First, God’s voice is heard in the wilderness,
PREPARE THE WAY; repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

A voice calls then; a voice still calls now.
But only those who hear, will hear the message.

Only those who listen intently,
listen in the silence, wait in the darkness
will have ears to hear the message:
The Kingdom of God is at hand.

Contemplation:

In our world today we are surrounded by constant noise: people, media, entertainment, transportation. Today, how can you strive to hear God’s voice? How can you strive to hear others?

 

[1] cf. Malachi 4:4
[2] cf. Mal 4:5-6
[3] Galatians 4:4-5

Silence and Sound, Day 4

The following is an excerpt from a free advent devotional guide put together by myself and several close friends.  To download this guide, see here.

Week 1
Day 4: The Intertestamental Period
by meridith matson

Within one blank page in our Bibles, much happens in the story of the nation of Israel and within the scope of world history as well. This page between the Old and New Testaments represents a 400 year period of time known as the the Intertestamental Period. This era is known as a time of silence, where God does not speak through a prophet. This time of silence, however, was not an uneventful period in history, or an idle time in which God was not actively present in the world. There were many changes in the region of Israel that also directly impacted the people of Israel during this time.  

The rise of Alexander the Great, and his conquests within this region of the world, significantly impacted culture.  His ideals, as taught to him by the philosopher and his teacher, Aristotle, gave him a vision for unity.  During this drive for unity the Greek language, culture, and ideals were violently forced upon the world in a process known as Hellenization. After the death of Alexander the Great, the areas he conquered were divided into four sections ruled by four generals.  

Another significant period was the Maccabean Era (165-63 BC).  During this time, an elderly priest named Mattathias rebelled against Syrian officials who were trying to force the Jewish people to participate in heathen activities. As a result, a large group of faithful Jews followed him and later led the “Maccabean Revolt.”  These Jews were responsible for eventually cleansing the Temple and restoring devout Jewish worship.  In their persistence, they created the culture and norms present when Jesus shows upon the pages of the New Testament.

Upon further study, we see that though it was a time of silence God was anything but removed from His people.  In the fullness of time, when everything was culturally, politically, and religiously the way God intended them to be, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be born of a young Jewish girl.  And through this baby, change arrived: not just for those of Jewish descent, but for the entire world.

Contemplation:
Can you think of some “blank pages” in your life, times when you felt God was silent or that you had removed yourself from God’s presence? What unexpected revelations came out of that time?

 

For more on the Intertestamental Period see: http://www.thetransformedsoul.com/additional-studies/spiritual-life-studies/the-intertestamental-period-and-its-significance-upon-christianity

Silence and Sound Advent Devotional

Faithful readers,

As promised, our contemplative Advent devotional is ready now for download.  Beginning Friday, December 1 through December 25, enjoy a reading and contemplative exercise each day.

Silence and Sound 2
Download Advent Devotaional

Silence & Sound Advent 2017 is our gift to you this Advent season. We hope that through this devotional, you are called to deeper understanding and fuller practice of the faith we share in Christ! We worked together across the world to compile these readings and thoughts as short daily readings with accompanying contemplations or actions you can pick up at any point in the day or integrate into your personal advent practice.”

*******

“Silence and sound are two vital themes in the Old Testament. Although this pair are often discussed as opposites, we have placed them on a spectrum–silence can sound like many different things. From the beginning, we encounter the silence of the void into which the Creator speaks, a certain silence of good creation at peace as the Creator rests; but also the silence of Adam during the Temptation, the silence of Eve as she gives the serpent too much shrift, the silence of dread that must have filled their ears, knowing the Lord God would show up. Silence gives the foundational mythos of Scripture its cadence, while sound accompanies the interventions of the Creator. God speaks, and the world is created, and so the morning stars sing for joy. Prophets prophesy and kings decree; people cry out in repentance, and then praise.

“All the way through, silence and sound punctuate this holy history of the Old Testament. The silence of pain: from the uncomfortable silence between Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah to the deathly silences Esther endured to save her people. The sound of distress: the sound of Israelites groaning under their slavery, the repentant sound of Nineveh’s decree, and the reluctant sound of Jeremiah’s prophecies. The silence of blessing: from the stupefied silence as his brothers are reconciled to Joseph to the hushed silence as the ark of the covenant is placed in the Temple. The sound of victory: the sound of the Lord God cursing the serpent, the sound of the ram’s horn and warrior’s shout crumbling Jericho, the sound of Isaiah’s response “Here am I.”

“Beyond these guiding narratives, we find silence and sound woven through the lives and the faith of believers throughout history. Silence and sound can be sources of strength when we have trained ourselves to hear them. If we will attune our ears and attend to the message, we will hear the glory of God in the sounds and silences of life. The Advent season is a reminder to us of the power of waiting and listening as well speaking out. May the voice of the Lord guide your lives and faith!”

Writers:

Bethany Stallings
Charlotte Cline-Smith
Meridith Matson
Nathan Bingaman
Scott Matson

Artist:

Ellie Stager
letterandjournal.com

arrival of advent

The arrival of advent awaits us.  Beginning December 3, the church begins a season of expectation and waiting, culminating on Christmas Day as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

A few friends of mine have put together a contemplative advent guide, which will be available for free.  Check back here later this coming week for a link to download.  This guide is meant to help you create some calm in the midst of this often busy season.  We hope it is a blessing and refreshment to your soul this season.

Check back here for a few of my original writing and poetry, as I’ll post on the day each one is read in the guide.

Peace to you this Christmas season.