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.

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That which Christ calls us to do,
he will enable us to accomplish.

This is the message of the Miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.
The only miracle recorded in all 4 Gospels, this seems to be the message for the disciples: when Christ would leave the earth, they would be empowered to carry on his message.  And the ability of them to carry out this ministry would not be of their human strength, it would be the power of God.  The power through His Spirit.

Christ called them to feed the multitudes, “You give them something to eat.” (Matt. 14:16)  And amongst the people, five loaves of bread and two fish were found.

Jesus prays a prayer of thanks, breaks the bread, and from this, the food just kept coming.  More and more.  More than they needed.

And the disciples did the work to distribute the food to the people.  “They all ate and were satisfied.”  And “the number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” (Matt. 14:20-21).

Jesus commanded the disciples to feed the people, and through him, they were able to accomplish what he called them to do.

The same is true for us today: That which Christ calls us to do, he will enable us to accomplish.

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146,000 silent nights

Malachi 3:1  “’I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

These were last words God spoke.  For 400 years.

The people waited.
And they kept waiting.
400 years passed;
God was silent.
146,000 silent nights.
But all the people were watching and waiting,
and watching some more.

They were not fighting each other.
They were not worshipping other gods…
for the first time in a LONG time.

They knew God was with them as they watched and waited,
but, the promise…
from the prophet Isaiah:
For unto us a son is born
Unto us a son is given
The peace, justice, righteousness…
they knew these were coming.
They knew HE was coming.

But, do you think the people wanted to give up?
Did they get tired of waiting?
Did they think God’s promises weren’t going to come to be?

Maybe.

But the next time God spoke, it wasn’t through a judge, king or prophet.
It was in the cry of a Baby.
God would break the silent nights, with a not so silent night,
through the screaming cry of a baby.
The Son of God,
Emmanuel,
GOD WITH US.

Two people waited expectantly day and night in the temple worshipping God, waiting for the Messiah, or the Christ.

Luke 2:25-32  “There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
‘Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples— a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.'”

Luke 2:36-38  “There was also a prophetess, Anna […] . She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Simeon and Anna both were waiting,
and after waiting so long, they finally gazed into the eyes of God-
a baby.

Someone asked me last week – why do we celebrate Jesus coming at Christmas time so much? What’s so special about it?

Jesus was and still is the hope of all mankind.
Jesus was and is God – who came to earth to live as one of us,
to share in our sufferings, our struggles,
to live as we live,
and years later – this baby, now a man
would die on a cross and rise again
because of one reason:

LOVE.

God’s love for us – you and I and this entire world
is so big that he didn’t leave us alone,
He didn’t leave us to walk this life alone
He came to be with us,
He came to rescue us.

And that indeed is good news,
the good news of love
that was worth waiting for all those years.

Love.

 

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The mystery and wonder

There is something about Advent 
Filled with mystery and wonder
in the midst of busy lives filled with noise
noise that simply fills the silence
we are invited to pause, reflect and wonder once again.

Imagine how it is that God himself became man
how it is that God took on human flesh
we stand in awe of the mystery of the incarnation
can we ever humanly understand this beautiful, awful, preposterous thing?

But God dwelled.
God dwelled among his people
Tabernacled with his people
so we could have a mediator
the God-man.
Emmanuel, God with us.

The wonder of Advent is the story,
the story that each moment,
we are invited once again to join
again and again.
Because no, it’s not just a story,
its the reality of mankind:
hope.

And hope is a person: Jesus Christ.

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Holy Week 2013 Thoughts

This year as Easter approaches, I feel somewhat caught off-guard.  I no longer work in church ministry (for now), and it was strange during Christmas this year I wasn’t planning Easter dramas and music…

I have participated in a very self-revealing Lent this year that has exposed parts of my heart.  I  gave up all television and movie watching (apart from watching things with friends, and an occasional Sunday I watched a few shows).  Six weeks is a long time.  But in many ways it has gone by really quickly.  I’m still not quite ready for Easter.

There is much to be said about this significant week, you can read some of my posts from Holy Week 2012 for more devotional reads.  I was a little more dedicated last year.

As I slaved away this week writing a paper on the sacrificial system in Leviticus, there was a phrase that caught my attention: the wrath of God satisfied.  Of course this reminds me of In Christ Alone (what phrases DON’T remind me of a song?), but in this case it was in the context of Leviticus 16, The Day of Atonement.  Once a year, the High Priest made an offering for the corporate sins of the Israelite people.  This was to show: the constant daily sacrifices made by the people for their sins was not enough.  For a Holy God to continue to dwell among his people and for his wrath to not consume them, atonement had to be made.

God.  Dwelling in the camp with His people.

I still am blown away by this.

Anyway.  I started this post earlier this week, and now it’s Good Friday.  I’m saving more on Leviticus 16 for another post, but for now, for today, we rejoice in the brutal, humiliating death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  A sacrifice perfect and sufficient.  Unlike the Hebrew people needing to continually make sacrifices in Leviticus, this sacrifice satisfied the wrath of God.

Completely satisfied.

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Beginnings

My time spent away from blogging more than just songs or devotional thoughts quoted from other authors has not been without reason.  And definitely not because I don’t have anything to say.  If anything, I have more to say now than ever before in my life.  And it would probably be an incredibly beneficial act as a Graduate Seminary student to craft some of the Bible and Theology I’ve been taught into my own words.  I also am in a journalism class that will likely be a huge contribution to my stress level this semester, but could possibly transform me into a better writer than I’ve ever been.  The book we’re reading now continues to stress that it is important to write regularly, and blog regularly.  Both I have failed miserably at recently.

This is an attempt to change my silent, non-blogging days into days filled with words.

We will see how long this lasts.

Time is quickly passing, just life, and time tonight.  My mind always comes alive in the early hours of the night.  I continue to blame this on “never really getting off West Coast time.”

My simple thought for tonight comes from the book of Genesis, in the first couple chapters of the book.  My Old Testament Professor has spent the first three weeks of this semester carefully navigating the first handful of chapters of the Bible.  The experience has been one of beauty and wonder.

Examining the fall, in Genesis chapter 3, there are a great number of questions we can ask the text as we study and look at it.  One of the most perplexing to me has been: where did evil come from?  The enemy of God, the serpent in this portion of scripture, wasn’t “created”; it simply is introduced as a character in the narrative.  Many argue the “old age earth” position, saying that this specific description of creation was a second creation, leaving a great deal of room for imagination to step back and consider about all the possibilities.  

Regardless of where evil and the enemy of God came from, it is beautiful to see the relationship between God and mankind in the garden; simply amazing knowing God walked with Adam and Eve.  God provided for every one of their needs, and they shared in deep, personal relationship with Him.  

The picture painted of God caring for mankind, who was made in his own image is one I long for today.  Theologians speculate about the change that happened after the fall for humans.  Did our God-likeness change?  Relationships?  Diet?  Atmosphere?  Needs?  Some of those questions are addressed and answered as the narrative of Genesis is told, but the relationship between God and man certainly was no longer what it was in the garden, in the beginning.

At this point it would be easy to pull out the “Jesus” card and talk about Christ as our mediator in our relationship with God.  But.  I’m not going to.  I think it is important to ponder these opening chapters of the Bible and simply consider.  Ask questions.  Wonder.

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