Isaiah 64: 1-4 SLOW Word

Welcome dear friends!

Throughout Advent we’re using scriptures with Kris Camealy’s beautiful devotional, Come Lord Jesus, in our Lectio Divina every Monday and Thursday.  Get the first five days of her devotional free on her site here or buy the devotional on Amazon here.

Let’s travel to the manger together.

Curious about Advent? Find more here.

Finding this a gift? Pass it on to a friend and subscribe on the right for it to be slipped into your email.

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Psalm 100 SLOW Word Lectio Divina

(Remember dear ones, every Monday and Thursday find a SLOW Word Lectio Divina right here. Want it slipped into your inbox? Subscribe on the right and pass on the Wordfeast.)

Sometimes we encounter a familiar chapter (like this one?) and we pass it by thinking that it’s been squeezed of it’s power through overuse. That’s when lectio divina can be such an incredible gift. There’s something about the silence and the slow meditation that allows the breath of God to breathe over tired words (or our tired minds?) and open the gift back up.

Perhaps it’s the same with a season. Lent? Been there. Advent? Done that.  Yup, we can rush right over the holy without listening for the whispers of the Spirit because well, it’s been so well-trafficked.  It’s a lie born of the consumers of God.

Instead, lets lean into this beautifully rich season together. Right here at aThirstforGod, I’m going to hold open the doorway to Advent through Kris Camealy’s brand new Advent devotional, Come Lord Jesus.  It fits hand in glove with our SLOW Word movement giving short devotionals and gorgeous scriptures which will work well with our twice weekly Lectio Divinas. Our SLOW Word videos will correspond twice a week to the devotionals which begin on December 1st.

 

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Sunday a man with a gentle way about him walked up to the table where Madeline and I were selling cupcakes for 60 Feet and whispered a tender word: “Summer, you are in a season of waiting and it may look like nothing is going on, but underneath the surface, hard, beautiful work is being done.” His kindness took me by surprise. My tears surprised me even more. I had thought the lament was over. I had thought the waiting was over.

Doesn’t sitting with unfulfilled longings take courage? Sometimes it’s easier to lay the heaviness down instead of stand in the discomfort of waiting. This sojourn of a book invites us to stay in that limbic state, our hands open and expectant.  But you know what I love friends? Kris reminds us that one of the beautiful gifts of Advent is that we can find joy in worship while we wait singing, “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” I won’t spoil the rest of the journey. I just know you’ll want to come along.

Find the book at Amazon right through this link.

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All of these gorgeous pics are Kris Camealy’s own property.

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Behold the Lamb of God

It’s when I show up at the Confession on Sunday morning empty handed that I know I’m in trouble. I’ve forgotten the quick cutting down, the self-pity binge, the explosions at bedtime.  I’ve forgotten the pride because pride makes the rest of it go away, a nice little deceptive veneer.  And I’ve skated through the week without any self-examination. And here I am come to Sunday…a little too pious.

 

 

That’s when I know I’m in trouble.

 

Sin sticks so tight to our personalities we can’t see the worry, the people pleasing, the performance, the binging, the unhinged anger for what it is.  We have clicked into reaction mode because really, it’s all about us again.  We’re no longer following Christ. We’ve made a detour and our self-righteousness is just a sign that it’s all just getting a bit rancid in here.

 

The story of Jesus’ coming turns all of this on its head. Christ is born to the poor, the broken open, to the weak and watching, the dying.  He comes to those who know they need a Savior. Christ is reborn in us when we escavate the dead stuff and lay it down at the cross.

 

It’s when I don’t see my need for the One laid in the manger that I know I’m in trouble. When the nostalgia takes over and the warm fuzzies take over, I know I’m not ready. I’m not ready Him. I’m not ready for the sacrificial lamb who volunteered birth on this dark planet in order to set me free.

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Set aside time to listen to your life. Ask for a new revelation of what is keeping you captive, what is damming you up to love. After each question, set aside time to listen to your life:

 

What do you binge on to fill the emptiness…or do you just check out?

 

What happens when you are triggered by fear, loneliness, anger, pain, ungratefulness?

 

Think over a low point from this last week…what was your reactionary behavior? Is there a pattern?

 

Where do you run to when the pain gets strong? (Sleep, Shopping, Food, Tobacco, Computer, Facebook, Alcohol, Religion, Work, Drugs, Gambling, Sexual Addictions?)

What do you use to protect yourself? (Anger, Denial, Pretense, Hiding, Distraction, Isolation?)

 

How do you try to provide for yourself emotionally? (Success, Fame, unhealthy relationships, manipulation, control, money, people pleasing, sexual promiscuity?)

 

How do you punish yourself or others? (Blame, Unforgiveness, Self-contempt, rejections, abusive words, withholding, desire to harm, aggression, shame, criticism, self-abuse, bitterness?)

 

These are all behaviors/sins that keep us from crawling directly to Him when we are needy. We are invited to come empty, uncomfortably empty…but because of the pain we often want to fill, fill, fill.

 

Ask Him for help. Wash the mask off. Stop pretending and pry up the broken places.

 

Get comfortable being broken in His presence, naked even.  It’s the only way to a life of humility. But friend, you don’t have to fear the process. His kindness is gentle, beyond imagination.

 

This prayer could prove to be the key.

Jesus, I have sinned and no longer want ————–to hold me captive. I’m sorry for the pain that I’ve caused myself and others. Thank you for coming and being willing to die for my sins. I accept Your full forgiveness and thank You for it. I pray that You will transform me and clean this area up in my life. Do not let the evil one use this in my life any longer in Jesus Christ’s name. Show me how deep the roots go and redeem the consequences. I want to be transformed and healed. In Jesus name, Amen

 

The good news? Salvation is never His final work in our life. He knows we’re not “done.” Forgiveness keeps doing its good, hard work, ever-deepening, ever-cleansing, healing, transforming.

 

You, my friend, He died so that you might have Life with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:10) and this just might be the next step beautiful step toward the manger, toward the with-God life.

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Advent, Day 20: How to Have Beautiful Feet this Christmas

In October in Harrisburg, PA Felicia had walked the runway interceding…in their shoes.

 

She told the horrors of the stories of the more than 20 million trafficked simply by wearing a dress.  It’s a runway show called Unchained (click the link here to find out more) and Felicia is a co-founder (along with my beautiful sister, Stephanie!). 24 dresses designed by the acclaimed Project Runway designer Korto Momulo tells the story of the broken daughters: innocence stolen, the abuse and addictions of the trafficked, then hope, rescue, and redemption.

 

Compassion had been building for those just steps away from the trafficked as the stories of women who struggled to live free were shared.

 

And something had been born in Felicia as she walked that runway in the shoes of their story.

 

Or reborn.

 

 

Her own step-mom had squeezed her feet into stilettos every night, danced on a platform, wore the makeup so heavy no one could see the scars.

 

And she was also the one who pushed through the turnstile at a Billy Graham Crusade, who brought Felicia to hear about Jesus.

 

And if compassion is just love stored up,

 

then compassionate action is love spilled out.

 

Because we get them.  Don’t we? We all crave love.

 

And desire substituted and crammed down tight keeps the hunger pains down.

 

Most had their “no” robbed early, their glory carted away by the power gorging. And powerless, they grasped for power wherever they could find it, landing them here in the dark smoky interior of a strip club.

 

And every captive daughter needs a Rescuer.

 

And all the image-bearers need to feel the weight of their value, taste hope in order to walk out of the dark of hell.

 

It was through Harmony Dust’s work at iamatreasure.com that love started surging into action for Felicia.   Harmony, who was trafficked herself, has outreaches for those in the industry and trains women to do the same. On her site, rescued girls tell their stories of sinking into hell and the Rescuer who walked right in and found them there.

 

A few weeks ago Felicia’s love broke wide open with urgency.  She shared with her Ohio State campus church that she planned to gather Christmas gifts for the girls at a nearby club to begin an outreach. Hearts and wallets opened and gift cards for Bath and Body Works were brought to Felicia. Another member of the church, Shaytell Furman linked arms with her to share her mission.  With the gift cards for Bath and Body Works, she and Shaytell went shopping choosing the language of lotions to tell the girls that they have value and worth.

 

They prayed the girls would rub in truth every time they rubbed the lotion in deep. They hoped the salve of the gospel of peace would begin healing the wide open wounds.

 

 

Thursday night they wrapped the gifts up pretty in gift bags and she and Shaytell prayed for just the right girls, just the right club to walk into.  They had their sites on a big commercial establishment but as they pulled into the driveway, Felicia glanced off to the left at a small shady club. Felicia found herself driving up deeper into the unknown. They parked out front, prayed for courage and then pulled open the heavy metal door.

 

Once inside their eyes needed to adjust to the darkness, the covered windows, the few bright spotlights.  Music pounded out a techno beat and men sat at a bar laughing with a few mingling girls. The air was stale with smoke and alcohol.

 

As they walked up to the bar to ask for the manager, a few women sitting at the bar smiled brightly. Felicia was startled. Their demeanor was entirely incongruous.  They were bright August sunshine in the midst of the hard looks, hands wrapped around glasses tight.

 

When they announced to the manager their desire to bring Christmas gifts to the girls, the angry manager softened.  She pointed to the women at the bar with the wide smiles. It was then that Felicia noticed the Bath and Body Works bags sitting on top of the bar.

 

They were Christians on a love mission as well.

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How to have beautiful feet this Christmas?

 

1. Like Felicia, ask God for where your story and the need of the world meet.  Our testimony brings empathy which in turn will keep us focused when the journey seems long.  Understand that the relationship building that opens doors for the Gospel takes time, grace, and truth.  See this quote picked out by Harmony  from iamatreasure.com by Cloud and Townsend:

 

For God’s system to work, you have to have all three. Grace and time together, without truth, will make you comfortable in your stuckness. Truth and time together, without grace, will discourage and break you. Grace and truth together without time will give you a vision and then not have you reach the completion of that vision. They must go together.               

 

2. Ask God to build in you a love for the broken beautiful.

 

 

3. Do something tangible to show them you care…to share with them their true value.

 

4. Listen well.

 

5. Bring them into safe community.

 

6. Introduce them to the Rescuer slowly, how He runs to those who come home, forgives their sins, carts away their shame.  Then He wraps His robe around them tight, introduces them to His neighbors as His beloved child.

 

Check out this book…no good news giver sharing Christ should be without this short, insightful book.

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The two women greeted Felicia and Shaytell.  “We’ve been praying for you,” one of them whispered as she leaned over.

 

Felicia and Shaytell learned that the smiling women at the bar had been coming to the club for years every Thursday night, praying, and slowly getting to know the girls.  Now the leader was moving out of state and was afraid the ministry would be dropped.  “And here you are,” she said, hope spreading across her face.

 

 

Summer Gross

“How beautiful are the feet of them that bring the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” (Romans 10:15b)

And now for a much more “soulful” version of Handel’s “How Beautiful are the Feet.”

photos from the Unchained Fashion Show. Hear more about my response to the show here.

photos by Andrea Hoppel

Make-up provided by Maria Teresa Hair and Make-up Artist

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Advent, Day 19: Welcoming Him into Our Ordinary

On that first warmish day of spring, we throw all our weight against creaking sashes until the smell of moist earth fills every corner of the house.  All day long moving from room to room we inhale the mixture of wet pavement, hyacinths, pine.

 

We open our stale corners wide open to the breeze.

 

Henri Nouwen says that at the center of every soul is a room with a small table and a candle on it. A door with a handle on the inside stands in the thick walls. I imagine the room looks a bit like a wine cellar at an Italian restaurant, brick archways, dark corners, oak table, heavy carved door.

 

We can stay inside hidden, Nouwen says, alone with our fear and self-centeredness, our seemingly controlled life, or we can push open the door and the waiting King will enter.

 

It’s companionship with the King of Kings starting with the antipasta.

 

OK, I may have embellished that last part.  You might be having Indian food.

“I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me,” (Revelations 3:20).

 

Friends who went through the Alpha series with my husband were struck by Revelations 3:20 and in one session the wife announced, “Let’s do that.”  “Do what?” Andrew inquired. “Go home and open the door for God.” And they did.  They stood right inside their yellow English cottage of a house, turned the knob, opened the door and welcomed Him in…to their lives, their family, their marriage, their home.

 

But it’s not just a salvation scripture…although agreed, it’s brilliant as such.

 

Taking this verse in context, John wrote it down in Revelations as instructions for the church at Smyrna, for the lukewarm, rich, and self-centered.  He wrote it for me, maybe for you.  He knocks to come in, not just on safe days, not just on perfect-hair days, or even for emergencies.  He desires to come in, pull up a chair and eat the crusty bread of common life.

 

He wants to be formally invited into our relationship with our mother-in-law, our cublicle at our dead-end job, our Christmas morning highs, the ordinary every moment.

 

Our job is not to hear the knock, pick up the dust cloth, frantically try to set things in order. No, He gladly picks up the rag and the lemon spray, pulls up His sleeves.

 

Our job is simply to throw open the door and invite Him in.

 

We invite Him to move right in.

 

We invite Him who is King to make a kingdom out of us.

 

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Advent, Day 16: When We Do Too Much

The Advent lectionary and my little Advent series here collided randomly this Sunday in the most satisfying way. Yesterday’s scriptures, “He shall feed his flock” was featured for the Old Testament and then were repeated by Christ to John the Baptist in the gospel and as soon as I sat down in church, a lovely Mezzo-soprano and soprano sang the Messiah scriptures. I sat and bathed.

 

Later the children and I chatted about what we needed to be fed by our Shepherd. We pulled off tags  with words scrawled vertically on a paper in a prayer station, much like you would find at a Laundromat for a dog-sitting service. Simple and uncomplicated. We fingered them in our pockets for the rest of the evening, small kinesthetic prayers.  Xavier picked, “love.” Caedmon picked, “joy.” I chose peace. I desperately need peace from loud and crowding Christmas expectations.

 

I had already held the round see-through wafer in my hand, prayed for more “Jesus,” put the wafer on my tongue to dissolve. I’m always desperately in need of more Jesus.

 

The rest of the aria from the Soprano is what echoed in my mind later, “Come unto me all ye that labour.” It was one of the first arias I was handed in college. I listened but struggled not to breathe with her, mouth every word. Once you’ve sung anything for an audience your muscle memory takes over and the words are not just words, they are words connected to the diaphragm strength it takes to sing those words.

 

This was the phrase that stood out: “Take My yoke upon you and learn of me.”  As I heard the phrase repeated I wondered how many yokes I had taken on this Advent. And whose they were, because they were not His and they should not have been mine.

 

The image being used by Christ here is of an oxen and a double yoke, and the promise that yoked up with the Almighty God in the other half, our assigned work will not strain us out of God-rest.

 

When we do too much, we are slipping out of the yoke, trying to pull in our own strength. We strain hard and soon drop exhausted.

 

I wondered how many other yokes I have picked up, determined that I need to look over each one, ask them whose they are and if it’s time to lay them down. Holley Gerth in this girlfriend-chat of a book, You’re Already Amazing,  (which I love) says there are both talents that we are given and some we are not endowed. On Purpose. God doesn’t want us to try to take over everyone else’s gift. He just wants us to walk forward in ours, with His Almighty empowering fastened securely.

 

This Christmas season I’m giving up perfect.  I’m giving up the fear that my kids won’t have a magical Christmas. I’m giving up the fear that my dear sister-in-law won’t like her gift.

 

I’m giving up the hype. I’m so done with the hype. I just want more Jesus…for all of us.

 

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Perhaps an Advent journal entry or just a simple list in your prayer time:

What yokes have you taken on that may not be yours? Where is the most strain, the least God awareness in your life?

What expectations of the holidays are building up your anxiety?

Perhaps these jobs or expectations need to be reattached to the strength of God,  (I can’t do this in my strength any longer) perhaps they need to be slipped off your neck, given to the antique shop to hang on their crowded wall…

 

We’re on our way, dear friends, there are just a few more turns in the path to the manger.  Come with? Put your email in the CONNECT box and pilgrimage with us. We’re also partnering and working up some lovely treasures for you in the New Year. You don’t want to miss a thing.

linking today with Jen Ferguson with the Soli Deo Gloria sisterhood where she is sharing about a free 30 day book encouraging us to stand with slaves around the world: January is Human Trafficking Awareness month.  Yes. Let’s do this.

 

 

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Advent, Day 15: Learning to Eat Out of the Shepherd’s Hand

They were too much, for whatever reason.

 

They were the lambs the ewe kicked away from her warmth, milk, care.

 

These are the bummer lambs in the shepherding tradition, shunned from mom’s circle of care, orphaned.  She pushes them away, assigns them to a slow death.

 

But to the shepherd, this lamb has inherent value. He reached his arm inside the mother’s birth canal, pulled it gently into the warmth, carefully washed off the afterbirth to make sure her lungs would be clear.

 

His eyes see these castaways completely differently. These are the ones He adopts.

 

 

These are the ones he takes on his lap to feed.  On that very first day, he sits on the ground in the dim of the barn, feeds it every two hours from a makeshift nipple, even grasping its jaw, teaching it how to suckle. These are the ones to whom he offers fresh hay…daily offering, offering, offering until they finally begin to eat it themselves around four weeks. These are the ones He carries close to His chest to regulate their temperature with His own body heat. And these are the ones He takes home at night.

 

For over a year.

 

“He shall feed His flocks like a shepherd. He shall gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom. And shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11

 

 

The redemption? These are the ones who know the shepherd best, his smell, his actions, the exact tone of his voice.  And these are the ones whose ears are always perked for his call, who run toward his voice first. They obey quickly. They know that voice through that year of being held, of taking a nipple from his hand. They know that’s where the care comes from.  They are not afraid or reluctant to follow. And they are the most playful with him. Through all that care, that sheep has imbibed the goodness of the shepherd.

 

This is what Isaiah was teaching us about the Messiah to come. This Messiah would see inherent value in every human being. He would wish to take each and every one home to be adopted by the Father.

 

And this is where it gets interesting for us. Maybe we may have said a sinner’s prayer, been invited into the fold but we are the independent, pick ourselves up from the bootstraps kind of people. We have our spiritual formulas and our own wisdom and we think we’ve got this thing all worked out. We think we can stand up on these shaky legs, find our own Source, drink life there.  But we are missing out on being fed His expert formula, coming close enough to hear His voice.  And when we push away the loving care of the Shepherd, think we can perfect our way through, we push away Life.

 

We are invited to come in close.

 

This time of moving has been like that.  My sources have been taken away and I’m listening longer, harder, crawling into His arms more often to drink.  I’m re-attaching to the Shepherd.

 

He didn’t adopt us to send us out there on our own. The Shepherd never does that. He’s going with us all the way. Yes, He’s coming. In fact, He’s the One leading.

Sheila Walsh talks about the bummer lambs here.

Hi friends, we are walking our way to the manger, together.  Using Handel’s Messiah as a lectionary and background music. Come along?  Slip your email in the CONNECT button on the front page and pilgrimage with us.

 

 

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Advent, Day 14: When We Are Tired of Being the Walking Wounded

Isaiah 35:5&6 “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped”. “Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing …“

This short recitative takes only 20 seconds, but to those who are being healed, these words mean everything.

 

It has been millennia since the pads of His feet walked our earth and we yearn to spin around in recognition of His voice, to memorize the many emotions that pass over His eyes.

 

This Advent I hear the constant refrain: He is coming, dear Friends.  He is coming.

 

And just like the first time, when He comes again, healing will be in His wake.

 

Isaiah 35:5&6 “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped”. “Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing …“

 

And this is where I live. I spent so much of my 38 years hobbling, struggling with anxiety, bowing to fear that I cry out for Jesus’ healing. I crave resurrection.

 

I crave resurrection surging through you.

 

We have been born smack dab in the middle of the resurrection and the coming again, the now and not yet. His resurrection has swept the land with an earthquake of victory, but still we are limping under sin’s long-fraught consequences.  We live begging for Heaven to come down, embrace our children lying wounded.

 

We wish not just for us to go there, but for Him to transform the HERE.  We refuse to believe that God wanted us to live nested into this earth constantly pining for another esoteric place.

 

NT Wright preaches over and over until he is out of breath that we have gotten it all wrong.  We have misunderstood the future reality of Christ’s coming. Heaven will not be somewhere out there, he teaches. Heaven will be God come down, the earth redeemed, the very ground seeped and healed and transformed.  When His Kingdom comes, His will is done, the earth will once more echo with God’s: “It is good.”

 

So we pick up the four corners of the cot of our loved one laced through with cancer and beg for Christ’s healing resurrection presence now.  We unwrap bandages from our still open heart wounds and search for a Healer.

 

I walk the streets of the nearby town of Ambridge and the needs of the people are not secured under a mask as they are here in Sewickley. The prostitute leans into the doorway wearing anger like armor. Men stand in front of a boarded up doorway and yell, try to strike the flame of fear with words thrown.

 

But even with the pools of light spilling out of store windows, He can see clearly through our carefully crusted masks. His perfect eyes see the bleeding truth.

 

This is not what He had in mind when He created each multi-faceted jewel to shimmer upon the earth. The pain, emotional and physical, is like a shroud we wear and we are the walking dead.

 

The good news? Our pain makes Him want to fight. He witnessed the widow weeping, her son on the funeral bier and breathed life back in his lungs. The woman who already had been physically healed, her 12 year bleeding finally clotting after touching His robe? He knew the bleeding was continuing from somewhere else. He shocked the crowd, reached out His hand, tenderly touched the unclean, the untouchable.  When He proclaims her “daughter,” He watches her inner heart heal up strong.

 

My greatest joy is working with dear ones with inner healing prayer. I witness Him transform the traumatized with His Presence, His words, His touch.

 

He wants to see you leaping and laughing, friends, your unbound hands raised praising. He wants to lay hands on your eyes, open to you the full light. In the now. And when He returns, the water of healing will wash over us so that we shine and shimmer in His light once again.

 

Advent spiritual exercise:

Take deep breaths, get quiet. Take Him by the hand and lead Him on a tour of your body, of your heart. Perhaps you need a pen in hand?  Invite the Healer to come to each broken hurting place in this new year.  No more pretending perfect. Invite Him to bring His Kingdom come into the highways and byways of your life. Open the door wide for the Healer to come in.

 And just a note: dear one, please stop trying to go it alone.  Independence is one of the greatest spiritual blocks of our Christian existence.  Seek a safe person to come with you to the Healer.  You don’t have to go it alone.  Feeling isolated and fearful of opening your heart? Perhaps you would let me come with you?  Check out the spiritual direction invitation coming soon here to A THIRST FOR GOD.

We’re almost there, friends. We are traveling to the manger together. Don’t miss a day. Enter your email in the CONNECT button on the front page (I’m fiercely protective of them, don’t worry) and let’s pilgrim together toward Christmas.

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Advent, Day 12: When We Search for Peace

Can we talk about how effortlessly rich Kathleen Battle’s voice is? Hands down my favorite soprano of all time.

 

“The peace of the Lord be with you.” We greet, shake hands, smile into the eyes of strangers and mumble the words.

 

But peace, my friends, is something tangible. It is as real as a blanket of snow falling.

 

When Jesus sent out his disciples two by two he armed them with authority to bring His kingdom life to them. He instructed them with this: “whatever town you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave, As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you,” (Mt 10:11-13).

 

In our Messiah lectionary we discover the King riding in on a donkey, not a war horse. Handel is pointing to prophecy that was fulfilled with His triumphal entry. Palm Sunday. Here’s how Eugene Peterson translates Zechariah 9:9-12 in the Message:

 

“Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!

Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem! Your king is coming!

a good king who makes all things right,

a humble king riding a donkey,

a mere colt of a donkey. I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,

no more war horses in Jerusalem,

no more swords and spears, bows and arrows. He will offer peace to the nations,

a peaceful rule worldwide,

from the four winds to the seven seas.”

 

Those leaning in close to Zechariah’s poetry have been pummeled by war. They have been tossed between Babylon, Persia and various little superpowers, bruised and abused.  Not only are they feeling powerless, they are despairing. They haven’t seen anything that resembles normal Jewish life in generations and the stories of God’s glory are starting to be snuffed by time. What do they need? A Conqueror. But, here comes the Promised One and He shocks them.

 

He comes riding on a donkey.

 

They may be begging for someone to shake down the stones of their enemies, but here the Messiah comes riding without a sword to draw.

 

Donkey riding is for peace-makers, not warriors.  There’s no white steed here. But here’s the real shocking difference, He comes not just for them. He comes spreading peace in His wake around the world.

 

This peace is not something the Israelites will bottle up, hold close, treasure in their Temple. This peace is a gift spread round the world, across Alps and penetrating the steep valleys of Papua. No corner of life will be untouched.

 

And this is our hope. “Peace be still,” He declared to the wind and the waves and this Advent I have waves that are white and cresting.

 

The wind and the waves obey and so will our chaotic hearts. And this, my friends, is worth great rejoicing.

 

But perhaps it is the rejoicing that will pave a way for the promised One to come. Perhaps the joy spoken out loud opens the door.

 

We rejoice and His Kingdom will spread like a snapped opened sheet to all corners of the earth. And peace will fall heavy on our laps, on our hearts, penetrate every corner of our streets, our homes.  Because it is a substance. It is not just the absence of something like war or anxiety, it is His Presence come in the front door and taking up residence.

 

When we search for peace, we find Him.

 

 

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” CS Lewis

 

We’re on our way to the manger, journeying together. Come on the pilgrimage with us? Slip your email into the CONNECT box on the front page and let’s rejoice in His coming together.

 

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Advent, Day 11: What Happens When the Holy Makes a Visit

“Fear not,” He says, but it is too late. I am already face down, fingers grasping stones, fingernails scraping dust.

 

I grasp at the familiar.

 

The glory burns and my knees come in tight. I fold up small hoping to hide.  I am unable to stand in the weight of all this glory.

 

For years I have lived in the shadows.

 

We are the late night, the 3rd shift sheep guards. The pinpricks of stars have became our companions. I walk around in the day with hands shading my eyes.

 

I cover my face, would do anything to put a veil over the light, contain it. I am not a holy chaser. I’d rather the mystery stay sanctioned off where it belongs.

 

I like things that fit in my hand, things I can move from here to there. Pick up.

 

Yet this light consumes more than darkness, it peels back layers of this pollution sunk deep in my skin. My sin sears. Have mercy, Lord, have mercy. Confession streams out violently.  Oh God. Oh God.

 

I purge.

 

I long to be free.

 

I long to belong to this Light, to lose myself in the Song.

 

This much holiness could kill anyone

 

…or kindle our hearts into a full fire praise.

 

 

The Voice of a thousand notes streams back and forth from nearby hills, “Do not fear. Listen! My good news will saturate the world in joy. Your Savior the Long-awaited  Messiah, the Lord, has just been born in the City of David.  This is the sign you are to look for:  a swaddled baby laying in a manger.”

 

The Voice burst into a million flaming Beings twisting and turning. Prismatic spotlights pulse across the black sky.   Their voices join and explode into a million waterfalls splashing praise back toward their King.

 

“Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to those who enjoy His favor.”

 

The song ends, the glory fades out so slowly the stones seem to glow, seem to have caught and held the light. We look up, search each others’ faces for recognition then slowly stretch out of our curled up selves.   We breathe deep, nod, grin crazy.

 

I am the first to run. We hurl ourselves downhill toward Bethlehem frantic, search stables, caves, barns until we find it: the light of a small lamp.

 

It sends a pool of glory around Him

 

and I sink down again,

 

grasp tight the hay.

 

You, my friend, what do you do with the holy?  Does the terror make you want to sanction it off…only keep the god of comfort close?  What sins/behaviors stand between you and being a part of the light? Are you ready to purge to come close?

 

We are on a journey to the manger together. Come with us? Don’t miss a day of the pilgrimage. Slip your email into the CONNECT box on the front page and receive the next stepping stone to the stable tomorrow morning.
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linking with the fabulous storyteller Jennifer Dukes Lee here:

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