Ascension Day @ Jesus’ Feet *SLOW Word*

Last words.  We turn them over and over in our hand like a last gift, a necklace, a jewel, discovering every angle, looking at the way the light shines through it. We hold onto the tone, the timbre of their voice. Last words get embossed in the mind.

 

That last visit sitting in the white nursing home room, under the window, my Nona was barely able to talk. Alzheimer had claimed all her words. She who once wore a mass of red curls like a crown, whispered like a child, nodding her head as if it was heavy. After hours sitting next to her, holding her hand and holding a monologue about the children and the happenings in our Mitford-like town in Pittsburgh, I thought all memory of me had slipped into the dark of her mind. But, as I got up to leave, I leaned forward to kiss her peach-fuzz covered cheek and heard her whisper, “I love you Sweetie” just like always. Just like she had whispered for the last thirty-eight years as I hugged her good-bye by the car. I glanced into her eyes surprised but she had already closed her eyes. She was already gone. I held her words like blue-green seaglass I search for on the shore, familiar and precious.

 

And Jesus’ last words? In Matthew Jesus leaves his disciples with the words every newly-adopted child needs to hear: “I will be with you always to the end of the age.” But, in Luke 24, Jesus gives last directions before he ascends: “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

 

The Spirit is the Father’s promise. Let’s just park here for a minute. The Father promises the Spirit, a magnanimous promise from of a perfect, loving, all-powerful Being. It’s a promise we can trust, a promise we can build a house on, build a life on. Can you hear echoes of Luke 11? “If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Holy Spirit give good gifts to them that ask Him.”

 

Ask. Stay. Wait.

 

 

It’s a daily thing, a lifetime learning. We’re invited to lean into the promise, to not rush ahead, but to hold out our empty hands for our Abba to fill. Frances MacNutt says that prayer is just our sitting at the table with the Father and asking Abba to pass the mashed potatoes. I can still hear the laughter in his voice from the tape I listened to early in my ministry, “And He LOVES to feed his children.”  It’s the same big-hearted Daddy tone of Luke 12:32, “Don’t be afraid little flock, for the Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.”

 

Luke all this time has been setting us up for his sequel, the book of Acts and the opening chapters punctuated with the fireworks of Pentecost. He’s setting us up for power, not for emptiness. He’s pointing to a new life fired by hope and the ability to bring the Kingdom wherever we put down our feet one step at a time. Your Kingdom come Here on earth as it is in heaven. Your Kingdom come here.

 

He is setting us up for gain, not for loss.

 

What are you hearing in these last words, my friend? 

 

 

 

 

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Lectio Divina as a Doorway to Rest

 

It’s just a couple of lines, not even a whole verse.

These words from Isaiah 30:15, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust will be your strength,” keeps being brought to the table, the Spirit’s not-so-subtle-daily manna. Two weeks ago, I was sitting in a lodge in northern Ohio, white dogwood right outside the windows and my professor, Dr. Terry Wardle brings it up again. He was telling a story of heart-break and how these verses invited him to return to rest in God even in the turmoil.

This lectio divina work has been one of those returning places. The tv. remote, Facebook, Instagram? They all promise rest. They’re sirens and I’m a sucker for their song. The more tired I am, the more mindlessly I scroll.

I’m learning that I need to make rest appointments with God, to the One who beckoned with a “Come to Me.” Lectio is one of those appointments. It’s my invitation to SLOW down, to receive.

Lectio divina is sometimes a place of incredible aha moments, but it’s not meant to park there stuck in one person’s ruminating. It’s supposed to be a doorway to dialogue and then to an even more simple but luxurious abiding. It’s a doorway for with-God time, being aware and present to He who is always present to us. And when I’m deep in hustle, I need the door swung wide open often.

What are you hearing in this verse? What word/phrase? What invitation?

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John 14:1-6 Mondays @Jesus’ feet

Dear friends, it’s Monday. Some Mondays I drag myself into the week, willing myself into a tight schedule, other times I come to Monday morning aware of my need, holding out empty hands for Jesus to fill. This Monday I want to be Mary rather than Martha, sitting at Jesus’ feet in expectation, waiting for Him to provide for my every Monday-morning need.  You too?

 

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Learning to Follow the Shepherd

Hello dear ones, it’s time to sink into the word again, to allow the Scripture to wash over us and show us new revelations of Jesus. It’s time to do the SLOW Word Movement. Know anyone else who may need this gift?

 

A friend sent me this piece from the interwebs. It wrecked me a bit…then came the lectio divina. Here’s my response, a gathering of a story from last week:

 

I sat on the leather couch feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me and if I’m honest, a tad bit angry. Our Journey group which had traveled through this last year of a spiritual direction program was saying good-bye. But that’s not what had me angry. That was tender. We were passing out parting gifts, blessings really. One of our members has a prophetic gift and spoke the word he saw for me. But here’s the thing. It’s a word that’s been spoken over me three times in the past three years. Different metaphors. Same message. They feel like signposts, signposts which whisper of blessing but when I’m straining here in the seat of disappointment, these signposts sometimes scoff. Because today as a homeschool mom in a ministry setting that’s deeply humbling, I couldn’t feel farther away from that word. It’s as if I’m walking a labyrinth and the path has turned away from the center. Cold. Colder. Colder.

 

These days I feel completely hidden.

 

I received the word and then gave it back to the Lord. “You can have it. If this is Your will, You accomplish it. Please don’t let me place walls in the midst of the path You have for me, but I refuse to idolize the sign.”

 

Because it’s easy to walk out of shame, to fear that I’ve missed the trail somewhere back there. Shame feels like a second skin. And shame has always been easier for me to wear than freedom.

 

I exhale. Stay on the path, I hear. Deep inside I know that the true journey is a pilgrimage to the center of my soul where the war battles.  There’s still a lot of work to be done. There’s cleaning to do. Where do I find my value? There are gates to swing wide to the Spirit. There’s an infant trust that’s recently been born but still naked, fragile. A necessary humility has begun to spread my arms out cruciform, wide enough to love the broken. But, some days I still feel the fight. Like today.

 

If I’ve learned anything on this road, here’s the extravagant reward of the struggle: my Shepherd’s love is fierce and if I get silent a while, I can drink deep of that love. That’s when I remember that He Himself is completely worth the uphill trek I’m hiking. It’s the Via Dell’Amore, the hard road of love. When all is stripped, and we’re alone on the trail, there are no other voices. No other faces. Alone and listening to the Voice of Love I discover again that it’s Him I desire…not the thing, the ministry, the story, the sign.

 

The Shepherd.

 

And yes, every once in a while I notice, when I learn to follow the robes of the shepherd closely,

 

He fills the frame and I no longer need to look where He’s taking me.

 

Dear one, in your spiritual life are you in a season of hiddenness or adventure?

 

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A Beg for Grace and a New *SLOW Word*

Dearest of SLOW Word community,

Lent is for listening and tweaking how we spend our hours and drinking full glasses of grace when we realize we just can’t get everything done.

This Lent I’m finishing up a year of study in a spiritual direction certificate program. Have I ever told you I could go to school full time and live happily ever after? And yes, I love the smell of new books, fresh rimes of paper, and “bouquets of newly sharpened pencils.” Thank you You’ve Got Mail for that fantastic line. Well, the closer I get to the center of my favorite studies, inner healing and spiritual direction, the more my foot bounces under the table through entire lectures and I have a hard time keeping my hand down and asking the appropriate number of questions. Yup, I’m that kind of sit-in-the-front-seat nerd. All out of joy, mind you.

Well, a full year of study has gone by and now it’s time to wrap up papers and a ton of loose ends. The administrator is after me to send in paper work. So I need to beg grace from you to go quiet for a few weeks.

The Slow Word will take a deep breath through April so I can pursue my studies with focus.

See you all in May when all the projects, the papers, and the verbatims have been turned in. Mwah! It’s been pure joy to listen to the word with you. But now, just one more from 1 Peter 5:5-11.

 

Enjoy your spring and keep listening,

Summer Joy Gross

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A Deeper Lent & *SLOW Word Lectio Divina*

This Lent let’s not hold onto control quite so tight. This Lent let’s go deep instead of wide.

Some years we choose on Ash Wednesday to let go of something that has had a strangle hold on our life. Some days we wrestle it into submission. Other times it slams us to the ground and knocks our breath out.

What if we had a Lent where we gave God permission to shine His light into the corners and closets of our lives and do His own lovely spring cleaning. Romans says that He leads us to repentance with kindness. In repentance we’re surrendering to His vision of our lives.

 

What if we gave up the control over which direction our repentance would turn?  

 

Have you ever done a nightly examen? It’s simple really. You spend a quiet moment at the end of the day and ask the Holy Spirit to shine a flashlight on that day’s events, bringing up the luminous thanksgivings, and the deep shadows.

 

  1. What am I most thankful for?

  2. What am I least thankful for?

  3. Where was I a part of God’s Kingdom coming in?

  4. Where have I contributed to the brokenness of the earth with my own sin?

Stop and listen, but do not fear the shame. Surrender without fear to He who is the Light. His arms are open wide for his children coming home.

Let’s dive in deep together.

Praying courage for this 40 days,
Summer Joy

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Choose Life or Choose Death, a Lenten question *SLOW Word video*

Choose life. It’s a simple question to bring into your lent.

What does choosing life mean in the middle of your day to day?

How do you choose life in your simple interactions?

How do you choose death for your soul, for your body, for your children, your spouse. It’s a way to weigh your actions.

 

Here we listen to lectio divina twice a week on Monday and Thursday. Today we’re listening to this question. Join us? Subscribe on the right to lean deeper into the Word with the word this Lent.

 

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#MondaysAtJesusFeet

Dear Friends,

Here’s a little Monday blessing:

So, what if instead of laying down our heavy hearts to enter the Word, we took them right along with us? What if we lugged our struggles, our unmet needs, our pain, our deepest cry right into our quiet with this Scripture and brought it into the Lord’s Presence, allowing this Scripture to transform it from the inside out.

 

That’s what I did last night. Last night I brought my exhaustion right into Jesus’ Presence and prayed that He would heal, that He would provide…and He did: the promise of daily bread. This morning, I’m holding onto that Word tight, setting down my anxiety over a day that feels long and deciding to lift up my head and search for the Bread. I have a feeling I’ll be following a trail of substantial crumbs all the way to the quiet of the evening.

So, this Monday, I bless you with the ability to keep those empty hands held out for an Abba who loves to provide.

I bless you with the gift of slow, deep breaths before the takeover of quick mindless action, before you speak words you wish could be put back into your mouth. #Preachingtomyself

 

Blessings on your search for more of Jesus this Monday,

Summer Joy

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