Day Fifteen: DESIRE December 15, 2013
Desires strike us at the oddest moments. We want, and in this day and age…we want it now – immediately – – – DESIRE is actually a good thing. It keeps us focused on the goal. Often the intensity of the DESIRE equals the intensity of our pursuit. Like any good thing, there is also the darker side to DESIRE – the side that puts the goal in front of everything or anyone else. That is when it becomes our golden calf. But just think what if we DESIRED Our Father as much as He DESIRES us? He DESIRED us enough to send His son. He DESIRES us enough to continue to love us despite what we do.
While I love the old hymn, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s DESIRING“, by J.S Bach, I love the literal translation from the German even more:
Well for me that I have Jesus,
O how strong I hold to him
that he might refresh my heart,
when sick and sad am I.
Jesus have I, who loves me
and gives to me his own,
ah, therefore I will not leave Jesus,
when I feel my heart is breaking.
Jesus remains my joy,
my heart’s comfort and essence,
Jesus resists all suffering,
He is my life’s strength,
my eye’s desire and sun,
my soul’s love and joy;
so will I not leave Jesus
out of heart and face.
Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
Day Sixteen: AWAKEN December 16, 2015
“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it
together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. “(Isaiah 40:5)
He AWAKENED a young girl in a small town who bowed her head and said, “yes”.
He AWAKENED a man espoused to the young girl who also knelt and said,
He AWAKENED the peers around them who gasped and gossiped and turned away.
He AWAKENED Caesar who called for a census of every family to go to their home town.
He AWAKENED wisemen who started following a star not knowing where it would lead.
He AWAKENED shepherds in a field and led them to a stable
He AWAKENED you – – – – – or have you chosen to sleep a little longer?
Day Seventeen: FAITH December 17, 2013
For the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking about what Mary and Joseph did by accepting to believe the angel’s words to each of them. Accepting is one thing. Acting on it? Another thing entirely. FAITH.
They acted on their FAITH...and things went down hill fast.
– unmarried woman
– fiance considers quietly leaving
– small town living to the nth degree
Do you think acting on their FAITH was easy at this point? Do you think friends and family stuck by them, or did they gossip and shun them? Do you think Joseph’s business took a hit? How about Mary – would she still be welcome at the well to laugh and giggle with all the others? They were not rich to begin with, and by the time they had to make the long journey to Bethlehem, they might have been lucky just to have a donkey to help them get there. Not to mention everything that follows – fleeing to Egypt under the threat of death – having to establish a way to make money and live away from home – family – the comfort of the familiar…
FAITH became action when they said, “yes”.
It was their FAITH that upheld them as they lost everything that they held dear.
It was their FAITH in the “bread” that they feasted on when the tears fell hard and fast.
It was their FAITH in the “water” that quenched their thirst in the dry desert of their challenges.
It was – it is – it will be – FAITH. Mary and Joseph proved that FAITH is more than a noun – in its purest sense – it is a verb. (sorry – the English teacher emerges every now and then)
Day Eighteen: CHANGE December 18, 2013
“And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” Jn 12:47
From the beginning CHANGE has been the purpose. When He spoke creation into being, He CHANGED what was to what is. When the time was right again, He sent CHANGE into the world. His name was Jesus. Not a grown man, not a king, not a rich influential person, not a “god” to rule over us but a baby, who would grow…just like us – face temptations…just like us – experience fear…just like us – face pain…just like us…and die…just like us.
The difference was CHANGE. He reminded the world what God desired, and He repeated those WORDS over and over. “And, behold, one came and said unto him, ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He saith unto him, ‘Which?’ Jesus said, ‘Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ …..’Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, ‘With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible’.” Matt 19:16-26
We don’t understand all of God’s words; how can we? It is not that the Bible is “old” – “outta date” – “wrong”; it is our understanding that is too limited. We can not see what He sees – nor understand what He knows. What we do have is the CHANGE that God wanted us to see in a tiny baby. The reminder that He loves us more than we could ever understand and He sent His Son as the emissary.
CHANGE started with a young girl and her fiance and it has rippled down through time. Sometimes with destructive waves because we got off track and forgot to follow the example set by the WORD ( “…I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”), and sometimes with the calming, soothing cadence of ripples washing upon the shore, because we remembered and tried to follow His example.
CHANGE was the reminder. CHANGE is a choice. CHANGE is not judging someone else – it is the effort you make within yourself. Don’t get off track in these last few days before Christmas…instead…focus on the CHANGE –
“Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice
Now ye hear of endless bliss
Jesus Christ was born for this
He hath ope’d the heav’nly door
And man is blessed evermore
Christ was born for this
Christ was born for this”
Advent Word Nineteen: CHILD December 19, 2013
“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a CHILD himself.” ~ Charles Dickens
This is the first year in a long time that I have not been reading and teaching “Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Watching the movie is just not the same — no matter which version I watch (and there are sooooooo many to chose from) In the 90’s a company named Feature Films for Families put out a biographical movie about how Dickens came to write the “Christmas Carol” which made the book come to life a little more for my students. In the movie, Dickens relives part of his childhood. Remembering his past, he becomes a CHILD…
Hmmmm….isn’t that what God modeled for us? He became a CHILD…a baby, to be precise… “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little CHILDREN…” Matt 18:3 or “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Jn 3:3 So many times we look at these verses and don’t see the simple truth of the statement. Open your eyes – see the CHILD – a CHILD born in a stable – wholly CHILD/wholly God – a CHILD carrying the new covenant in His very being – a CHILD that represented God’s new promise to Jew, Gentile, sinner, righteous, any color, any creed, poor, rich, political, apolitical…you name it…the CHILD came for you and brought grace…
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby (CHILD) wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Lk 2:11-12
Advent Day Word Twenty: TIRED December 20, 2013
Today was the last full day of Fall. Maybe because it is the shortest day of the year or maybe because my husband woke me way too early this morning to go get our “Merry Christmas to us” hot tub or maybe just because it is that time of the year when we try to squeeze all the gift-shopping, errands, decorating, cleaning, baking, visiting, cookie exchanges, Secret Santa parties…(you get the picture…sigh)…into the tiny space of the last five days before Christmas. Seriously, can you believe we are only five days away from Christmas?
Then again, the tapestry that Our Father weaves has so many threads being woven into the massive, complex, beautiful wall hanging that it is almost impossible to pick out the path of the one thread among the many. The TIRED thread has been woven ever since Adam and Eve walked out of the garden, and I wonder: if Our Father created us in His own image, does He not feel tired at times also? TIRED of sin, TIRED of rejection, TIRED of being misunderstood, TIRED of holding it all together??? How tired were Mary and Joseph by the fourth day of their journey to Bethlehem – 93 miles of walking, riding, no friendly restroom stops? No friends to laugh with them as they traveled – no extra money for any of the amenities they might wish for on this journey except the basic necessities – early labor pains – no family???
TIRED is a perfect reminder of advent and perhaps the very reason we feel so much of it at this time of year. In that very moment when we feel we can’t keep our eyes open another second…or walk one more step…or listen to one more life story of a stranger, friend or family member…or give one more cent to the red kettle…that is when we are closest to delivering Our Father’s gift and miracle…Christ.
Mary and Joesph, John and Elisabeth, you, me – we all get TIRED. We all weave our individual tapestry one thread at a time, and then that thread is woven into an even more massive tapestry of Our Father’s own creation. Someday…getting to see the individual tapestries and the larger one in its entirety will be beyond anything we can imagine. And to be honest (since I am ever impatient and want what I want when I want it), I get very TIRED of waiting; yet – that is exactly the moment when I realize that the Christmas Spirit has entered the room…I feel Our Father chuckle…and we all smile at the baby lying in the manager.
Advent Word Day Twenty-One: REST December 21, 2013
It seems never ending but the weeks fly by and suddenly we are only days away from a new set of Christmas memories. The past two days have been much like that for us.
Buy our Christmas present to us…
Go get the Christmas present for us…
See something shiny in the driveway…
Suddenly, you look up and realize that Christmas is only three days away. How did that happen? You pick up the shiny object and find that it is a spoon. A spoon from your mother’s silverware set that you haven’t seen since you cleaned out her house more than 10 years ago. The engraved “F” brings back a flood of memories in a whoosh! There is still more to do – more to prepare – more – more – more…and yet – the mind is RESTING…Reflecting…Reacting…Returning to the Reason.
REST…””Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in
your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.” Ex 23:12
I like to think that the journey Joseph and Mary took to Bethlehem took 6 days (Estimates place it at 4-5) But it seems to me that they just might not travel as fast. RESTING might come first for a young girl so close to her time. God created for six days, but on the seventh…He RESTED. To me, it just makes sense that God would repeat a pattern here. Seems like He repeats things (like any good teacher/parent) as He tries to teach us something important. While we do have to work in this life, we also have to REST. “God REST ye merry Gentlemen…”
Three days till Christ is born – three days to reflect, react and REST. There is a reason for the season. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you REST.” Matt 11:28