DAY ONE: HOPE December 1, 2013
Today I wasn’t home to light the “Hope” candle for the first day of Advent, but Hope swirled around me.
HOPE: that as people look around at the twinkling lights, stockings hung by the fireplace, go shopping or bake cookies, that they take time to let this verse echo in their hearts: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” — Psalm 150:6 —
HOPE: that every breath we take, echos the breath that He gave us in the beginning and that He gave us once again in a tiny stable… “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Gen 2:7
May your HOPE candle be brighter than ever during this week and into the new year to come. Blessings! Be!
DAY TWO: JOY December 2, 2013
Yesterday’s Advent word was HOPE. Today – completely out of advent order – is JOY. Given to me today by another who blessed me with her skill in healing and sent me on this journey that I didn’t know I had already started. God winked once again.
But how do we find JOY in a scary world? …in a less-than-perfect relationship? …in desperate times – when cupboards are bare – when the world seems against us?
He sent His WORD to show us. That is what this season is all about. The written WORD was not enough…He went further than any of us would ever do…He did what He spared Abraham from doing…He set the standard bearer’s feet upon this earth in the weakest form possible…in a stable…given to parents like you and me… parents who were imperfect – full of doubts – poor – frightened – weary…
JOY…amazingly – He had enough faith in us to send us JOY!!
“… They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting JOY will crown their heads. Gladness and JOY will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. … ” IS 51:11
JOY: in friendship
JOY: in prayer warriors
JOY: in divine appointments and God wink moments
JOY: in a child’s smile
JOY: in tears that ease the pain
JOY: in knowing that none of us are good – not even one – that’s why He sent JOY midst the torment of Roman rule…JOY in the midst of a requirement that everyone must make a journey for a census (imagine how we’d react to that one today!)…JOY in the midst of a world filled with uncertainty, fear, the have-and-have-nots, JOY in the midst of a smelly, dirty stable…JOY in the answer to prayers of a humble few.
“Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.” – Psalm 2:8
DAY THREE: LOVE December 3, 2013
December 3rd, I was in transit…visiting a wonderful friend and teacher on the East side of Columbus, OH, that I got to know in 1975 at Garfield Elementary… laying eyes and hands on my son, Stawn Kaufman…and knowing that the word I was given and would write about for the third day of Advent would be LOVE.
LOVE: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jn 3:16
LOVE: that breathed into our nostrils the breath of life.
LOVE: that carved a path that we might find our way back to the Creator.
LOVE: that became wholly man and wholly God to fulfill that LOVE
LOVE: that surrounds us with spouse, family and friends
LOVE: that lifts us through hard times and brings us peace
LOVE: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have LOVE, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have LOVE, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have LOVE, I gain nothing.
“LOVE is patient, LOVE is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. LOVE does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
“LOVE never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and LOVE. But the greatest of these is LOVE.” Cor 13 1-13
DAY FOUR: JOURNEY December 4, 2013
Traveling in the car for 8 hours by yourself, gives you lots of time to think – listen to Christmas music – roll your eyes at idiot drivers who cut you off – eat junk food – lay out a few plans for what you want to accomplish – – – and pray. It also gave me my fourth Advent word for 2013….. JOURNEY.
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. ([And] this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. ) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David: ) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.” Lk 2:1-5
We tend glide over these words with little thought to what this JOURNEY entailed, afterall we have to get to bed and wait for Santa to JOURNEY down our chimney. 93 miles – 4-5 days of long…steady…JOURNEY over rough terrain, down into valleys, crowded with other travelers, no bathrooms or motels or fresh fruit or… (you get the picture). If I look at this JOURNEY with a Jewish perspective, I would have to look deeper into the words themselves. I’m not that wise yet, but I can guess, that Our Father allowed Caesar to make this degree so that His Son’s life would – from the very beginning – symbolize the JOURNEY that all creation must travel. Since Adam JOURNEYED out of the Garden, Joseph JOURNEY to Egypt, David’s JOURNEY to becoming king, Ruth’s JOURNEY with Naomi; I could go on and on.
We are all on a JOURNEY.
JOURNEYS: that carry us closer – or farther – from home
JOURNEYS: that carry us into relationships – or out of relations
JOURNEYS: that carry us toward our dreams – or away from our dreams
JOURNEYS: that are the beginning or closer toward the end
JOURNEYS: that brought God down to earth to become wholly man. A man who went on many JOURNEYS to bring us Grace, Redemption and a chance to dream of the best JOURNEY of all. A JOURNEY home.
DAY FIVE: MUSIC December 5, 2013
MUSIC is the 5th Word of Advent…can you tell that I’m still behind a day? sigh.
It started yesterday when I made a side-trip into Cracker Barrel Gift Shop. You just never know what you will find there. Seems like I never truly find anything, but sometimes it is just fun peek in the corners. “I’ll Fly Away” was playing, and I immediately was back on the Campbell Street back porch listening to dad and a bunch of his friends play this song while mom and some of the other women joined in. There is something about gospel MUSIC that gets to me everytime and maybe it is just because of dancing for joy with my parents’ MUSIC surrounding me.
In any case, MUSIC continued. In and out of stores, picking up groceries and things needed since our cupboards were bare, Christmas MUSIC surrounded me again. Best part – seemed like everyone was singing a long. The little old lady leaning on her cane as she looked at the coffee label — the toddler bouncing in the cart singing “Jingle Bells” — the man waiting in line whistling along with “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” — and of course, me.
MUSIC: that eased the time spent waiting
MUSIC: that seemed to imbue smiles from everyone
MUSIC: that everyone sings along with at one point or another
MUSIC: that holds memories – good and bad – and reminds us
MUSIC: that sets the stage for the miraculous
MUSIC: that came when Our Father breathed that first creative breath of life
MUSIC: that reigned over the holiest of nights as a small family looked at their newborn Son
MUSIC: that reminds us of His presence in our lives and the Grace He brought and will bring.
Last night I fell asleep with that old gospel song in my head. This morning it was still there, and I remember…MUSIC is the 5th Word of Advent.
DAY SIX: GRACE December 6, 2013
When I took my trip back to OH last Thursday, I wasn’t sure how it would all work out. Trips are like that. You have an agenda, you hope it works, and then you just cast off and go. It has been the same with this Advent Word path that God suggested I follow. I knew I had to find a word a day – a God inspired word, and while everyday, the word has been made abundantly clear by the end of the day – it was not always a word that I expected or knew what to write about it. I assumed that I would use GRACE as an advent word eventually – just not quite so soon. However, today, it seemed to pop into my head over and over. I also didn’t expect this Bible verse to be the one that struck a chord as I searched for my word.
“I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.” — Ezekiel 37:22
Gotta love foreshadowing.
Since the beginning, Creation has been divided because God would not demand obedience, love or reverence. Creation has always been free to choose. From angels to human, the kingdom has been been divided…Cain and Abel…Esau and Jacob…Joseph and his brothers…David and Saul…on and on and on and on…wing, don’t you? If nothing else, Jewish traditions (these are the oral/written stories that are passed down through the rabbis – generation after generation) continue to open whole new vistas into the OT, and the way this tiny baby we are welcoming into our world was raised. He read this verse. Isn’t that amazing? He debated it with rabbis and peers as he was growing up. He heard this story behind it, and why the temple was built on Mt. Moriah. Two brothers lived on either side of the mount and loved each other so much that at night, they would travel to each other’s homes bearing gifts in secret because they were afraid that the other one might not have enough to survive. Eventually, they discovered what the other was doing, and they embraced. Love had united the kingdom.
And step-by-step, God has worked a way to show GRACE to His creation.
GRACE: that used the bad things that we choose to accomplish great things for His children
GRACE: that provided a temple on Mount Moriah surrounded by brothers who cared more about each other than themselves
GRACE: that knew from the beginning that a temple would not be enough
GRACE: that provided a way for Him to dwell among us any time – any where – any language
GRACE: that united His divided kingdoms into one eternal kingdom through the gift of His son
When God breathed the breath of life into creation, He breathed GRACE as well. The OT isn’t just a bunch of historical stories, it is a huge metaphor that repeats its theme over and over and over. GRACE. And on this 6th Day of Advent – GRACE is, once again, upon its way. We just have to open the door of the inn and let Him stay. Didn’t you ever wonder why His words echoed this early scene of His life? “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20