Tag Archives: Abraham

MIRYAM

Once upon a time there was a young girl named Miryam. She was an only child – some say for a long time – some say for a shorter time. In any case, her parents were afraid to have more children. In fact – she was named for the bitterness, rebellion as a reflection of the times in which they lived. Slavery has a tendency to do that to people.

Eventually Miryam had a younger brother. Her parents named him Aaron, and the siblings grew as children tend to do. But shortly after, Pharaoh grew wary of the great numbers of Jewish children being born. How could he continue to enslave such a massive group if they continued to procreate in such numbers? An edict came down – “Kill all new born males.”

Hmmmmm….sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Some oral traditions say that Miryam and Aaron’s parents decided not to sleep together. Why bring a child into such a world? Unbeknownst to anyone up until now, Miryam had been blessed with a gift of music and prophecy. She told her parents that they were to have another child who would bring redemption to their people.

Obviously, she was right. They got together and Moshe was born. Most of us know the story from there. Miryam watched over the baby in the basket. She prayed against so many things as she watched the basket drift. Some of them answered – some of them not. Surely, she would not have wanted her baby brother to be found by Pharaoh’s daughter – or to be taken in by one such as the royal family and yet – that was exactly the plan of G-d.

I keep getting caught by the similarities between the two, world-changing Passovers. Moshe – Yeshua. Moshe watched over by Miryam. Yeshua watched over by another Miryam (yes – in Hebrew her name was written Miryam) – again a reflection of the times in which she lived. Two men who were threatened with death by just being born. Two men who brought redemption to their people. Two men appearing when needed. A people enslaved. A people occupied. Redemption needed by both. Two Passovers with two Jewish men in pivotal positions of faith AND with two women named Maryam who watched them grow into their G-d path.

There are so many similarities between these two Passovers, and I have a feeling that I haven’t even begun to see all that there is to see. G-d winks at us so often – trying to catch our attention – trying to encourage us to see what He has so clearly designed to show us – – – why Christ followers are so tied to the Abraham followers. Two groups of people tied by two Passovers.

Sometimes when I am writing these things, my stomach and head begin to hurt. Separating tangled strands in my mind is not always easy for me. Clarity elusive. But just when I’m ready to slam the laptop closed and delete it all, a fleeting picture forms in my mind that takes me one step further, and I sigh under my breath, ‘How did I miss that?” I push open that narrow gate, whisper a prayer and take one more step forward.

“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”~Rv 4:8b [google images]

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NEIGHBORHOOD

The Grands have found the joy of childhood. They have friends that live only a few yards away. A barefoot run full of laughter. A stream full of adventures yet to discover. Tree houses with screaming imaginary battles to be fought.. Broken toys refurbished into new toys and bicycles decorating yards – just waiting for the next journey.

It feels as if I am seeing my own childhood through my parents’ eyes as I listen to them play. There is a certain joy that seems to fill me as I watch mothers sitting on the ground in front of their houses as the toddlers explore the smaller confines of their yard. It all sets my mind tumbling backwards. A small yard. A bunny hutch. A dog on a lead wire. Bushes taller than the parents where a kitty grabs some tiny toes and sends me scurrying back to a warm lap and laughter.

“Praise the LORD!
I will thank the LORD with all my heart
as I meet with his godly people.
How amazing are the deeds of the LORD!
All who delight in him should ponder them.”

It is good to see the resurgence of this type of neighborhood. It is good to hear the older children fighting imaginary dragons. It is good to see a neighborhood model that I thought had been lost to the ravages of a technological age. And I am – oh – so praying that it is not an isolated one. I’m praying that across this nation, parents are walking out their doors, sitting in the yards with their kids, talking to their neighbors and allowing their children to fall, pick themselves up and explore the small part of the world around them.

Our world is a scary one on so many levels. I do worry about those Grands when I can’t see them as I’m sure my parents and Grandmother worried about me. Yet, I remember walking to my Grandma’s when I was pretty young. I remember sitting in her garden while she showed me which plant was a weed and which plant was food. I remember running to my friends’ homes when I was the age of the Grands until I heard the three beeps of a car horn which sent me running for home.

“Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
His righteousness never fails.
He causes us to remember his wonderful works.
How gracious and merciful is our LORD!”

I think from a very young age, Our Father let me see what the Garden could have been for all His children. I think He is letting me see it again through the joy of the Grands during this Lenten season for a reason. I’m not quite sure what that reason is yet – but you can betcha – I’m looking for more wisdom everyday. Nothing is a coincidence in this life. Nothing.

As we travel through these last few days of the 2017 Lenten walk, I can’t help but wonder if Rabbi Yeshua was thinking and feeling much the same way as I am tonight. He could see the ugliness around Him. He could see the hazy shape of the cross in the skies just over the hills. Listening to the children laugh. Watching them explore the wonders of their world. Praying for them and their parents with each step that he took towards Jerusalem.

“All he does is just and good,
and all his commandments are trustworthy.
They are forever true,
to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.”

I’m sure the Jewish world was every bit as scary – probably more – as our world is today. Much more than I can imagine. An occupied country with all the pain and atrocities that come with it. A religion that was constantly under attack – and this is where Our Father sent His Son. To a land that needed Him the most. To a people that were stuck between that proverbial “rock and a hard place”. To a few that were still seeking and willing to explore the world with child-like eyes of faith.

“He has paid a full ransom for his people.
He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.
Praise him forever!”~Ps 111

A son who would pay the ransom for His people. A son who guaranteed His Father’s covenant with them forever and added a new covenant for those who had been separated from the flock.

A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – heeded His Father’s voice when He called.
A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – rode a donkey to a hazy mount in the distance as His Father walked beside him.
A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – carried the wood to the top of the top of the mount for His Father
A Son who – like Issac did for Abraham – would voluntarily lay himself down to be bound to that wood.
A Son who – unlike Issac who heard Abraham’s voice at the top of that mount – – – a Son who endured the absolute silence of His Father’s voice.
A Son who, indeed, sacrificed His life for the redemption of all – a redemption that would last for all people everywhere – for all time and beyond – so that His Father’s voice would never be silenced again and His children that had walked in darkness would see a great Light.

One day, the Garden gates will be thrown open and there will be many neighborhoods where parents and grandparents can sit upon their lawns, sharing with one another the beauty of the day. Children will explore wildly as their laughter, joy and song float all around the neighborhood. I feel so blessed tonight. Blessed to have caught a glimpse of His gifts once again. Blessed to hear His words echoing in my heart. Blessed to close my eyes and look forward to the Light that is just beyond that far hill. Blessed to begin the walk forward towards it.  [google images]

RATIONS 100 DAYS #13

Did you know that the first recorded prayer in the Bible was prayed on the behalf of others?

Not for self.

Not for a loved one.

Not for friends (although some of the city’s inhabitants were definitely related).

Not for fellow believers of Abraham’s God (although assuredly there were a few there) .

It was prayed over the people of Sodom. People who were into doing harm to others. People who didn’t seem to respect anything except self-gratification.

That was just the kind of man of God Abraham was.

“Then Abraham approached him and said: ‘Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”~Gen 18:23

Abraham, the father of this new belief, set a great role model for those to follow. The first prayer out of his mouth was for others. When we pray for others we truly become a “person” of God.

Jewish wisdom points to the fact that it “seems” as if this first prayer went unanswered at best – denied probably. Jewish sages believe this was to remind Abraham that prayer is more than just a communication with a “magic being” who will grant our every wish.

Since I was late getting to the computer today and was praying The America’s Prayer Minute at six o’clock, I was thinking about how important Prayer is to our lives and to the lives of those around us. Praying for the salvation of others is a touchstone of our faith. Today’s RATION just backs that up.

“To want to be right with God, is, according to Jesus, one of the eight requirements for inner peace and blessedness. Anyone who drives an automobile knows how distressing it is to have anything about the engine out of adjustment. Any rattle, knock, squeak or pounding in the motor calls for immediate attention. On the other hand, a smooth-running-engine brings to a competent driver’s mind a very real sense of joy and security. Now, righteousness is ur adjustment ot God. Sin, selfishness, any failure to co-operate with the will of God, any defiance of the moral law will cause rattles, squeaks, and poundings in our spiritual engines. We are out of adjustment. Inner peace coes only through harmony with God.’

“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.~Matt 5:6

“Read: Ps. 139:23-24

“Prayer: O God, we would be a part of the great harmony of creation. We would choose to do that which is right and true, just and generous and brave, that our lives may beat in tune with the Infinite and our goals and purposes be acceptable to thee. Help us all our lives to fulfill thy holly will in the spirit of Jesus Christ, our LORD. Amen”

IF I HAD A SONG

“If I had a song
I’d sing it in the morning
I’d sing it in the evening
all over this land…”

I’ve firmly decided.

I’ve been singing the wrong song, and God gave me the wrong kids.

I know – God doesn’t make mistakes and since it is His song I sing, I guess that can’t be wrong either.  Even when I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open to say my final night prayers, I hear mom and dad laughing over my whining-praying-for-my-kids- mode.  Clearly – I hear mom’s laughter the loudest.  Maybe this is because when she was on a roll, her laugh could cross a room and find my ears no matter how crowded it was. But it is, most likely, because during her last years of life, she would laugh (over my whining complaints), “Oh you totally are getting what you deserve.” I knew she was loving that moment —- ALOT!

I think I usually stomped out of her house, went home and took it out on hubby.

“We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.” Ps 78:4

My youngest “child” (and I do use that term lightly since she is in her 30’s) is getting ready to wind her way east as she heads to graduate school at Columbia in NYC.  She will be camping for the next month with her dog and spouse  – in a tent – “all over this land”.

Seriously?  A month in a tent? Can you see me rolling my eyes?

While on the other hand, my eldest “child” is wrapping up a similar camping trip in a camper with his spouse and four teenagers.  Being the elder, he has up-graded from the tent phase.  But still – 4 teenagers?  Oh my – how can they do this to their mother?

“I’d sing out danger.
I’d sing out a warning.”

As I rest in my Father’s tent, he brings forth that buried memory of one of my own

summer 1972a

c. summer 1972

camping trips.  Ah yes – there was more than one journey –  a tent – in parks even less developed than they are now – sleeping under the stars with no ambient lighting – anywhere near us – seeing and trying to comprehend things I had never seen before.  I was even younger and probably – (nah – forget the ‘probably’ – insert: ‘assuredly’) much more foolish.  Those youthful years brought the same rock to my stomach that I feel today. Reminiscent times. A time spent still mourning the loss of my earthly father’s tent and trying to find my heavenly Father’s tent…

“I’d sing out love between
my brothers and my sisters,
all over this land”

Journeys take many steps – a week full  – a month full – sometimes – years and years of steps. They take many different shapes and forms as we journey into ivory towers, primeval forests, beyond-belief-canyons, endless starry nights, dilapidated neighborhoods, overly bright sunny days, while we live in tents of differing shapes, textures and dimensions.

“The LORD appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. 2He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.” Gen 18:1-2

The important thing is to keep making the journey.  Like Abraham, who opened his tent in all directions looking for visitors on a hot day – even the hottest day of the year – the journey becomes a life event that changes us and the world we touch.  Abraham became the father of a nation as he spread his knowledge, wisdom and faith in His Father. As we venture out – open our tent flaps – we are not only learning – we are blessing the world with who we have become.

I may not like being away from home much these days or into camping (tent or otherwise) for any length of time, but I am still opening my tent flaps and waiting to entertain the strangers when they approach my tent flaps.  It is my journey and – – – I guess God was right all a long.  The song I’ve been singing and the “crazy kids” He attached to my life are exactly the right ones for me.  Sometimes God just needs a hammer to get it through my thick head.

 

 

MaKOM

When I was a child, kids could walk or ride their bikes just about anywhere, and you didn’t have to be 14 to do so -not to mention – helmets.  So from kindergarten on, I was always walking to school or riding my bike.  However, there was one bridge that was hard to avoid.  It scared me as I made the journey home – especially if I was walking.  The bridge seemed ancient from my 6 year old perspective – although in hindsight – it probably wasn’t at all.  Its wooden, narrow walkways were on either side of the car path that separated them; loose boards wobbled under the feet as you walked up and then down; not to mention the occasional missing board that reminded you just high over the railroad track this bridge was.  In the mid-50’s, trains passed under this terrifying bridge several times a day.  The bravest of us would often stand at the wooden railing and jump up and down as the trains approached.  Me?? I ran as fast as I could – until solid ground eased the heart palpitations, and I could turn back to watch the train and wait for my companions of the day.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Is 41:10 

loudonville RR

Not sure where this fear came from.  Others weren’t afraid, but heights have never been my friend even at the tender age of 6 or 7.  Luckily, we moved in my 8th year of life to the (proverbial) other side of the tracks, and I didn’t have to walk home over that bridge anymore.  My first real PTL moment. Instead, my new path primarily led me through Central Park and past our family church.  I don’t remember when or why I started stopping at the church…maybe I was just curious…maybe it was when my first kitty (Tommycat) died…maybe it was after dad had his first heart attack when I was 10…  What I do know is that I lost count – long ago – of how many times I open those huge, heavy, wooden doors to sit in the quiet of the of the holiest spot I knew.  Gazing at the stain glass windows, the altar, the cross, became an important part of my life.  One time our preacher found me stretched out on a pew and woke me. As we talked, he shared some of the things he found peaceful when he was in a church after he came home from a WWII prison camp. I like remembering the days when churches were never locked…in fact…I was shocked and sad when I first encountered such a church door after I moved to the city to attend college.

“And Abraham went [to pray] early in the morning to the place [MaKOM] where he stood [in prayer] before the Lord.” Gen 19:27

methodist church

Jewish wisdom and traditions have been part of my faith journey for the past couple of years as I have tried to understand more about Christ.  When tired, tested, or just needing the closeness of His Father, Rabbi Yeshua often retreated to the wilderness.  Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets – all had their special places where they would go to feel that closer connection to God.  It was their MaKOM.  In Hebrew, letters have a numerical value as well as a language value.  Without going into all the details (which I tend to find fascinating even though I hate math), Jewish wisdom says that if you square the letters of the word Jehovah, it equals the same numerical value of the word MaKOM.  Get it?

We find God in His “area”.  In other words, God honors us when we make the effort to come to a special place (area) to seek – to pray – to serve – to worship – Him.  That is why the Jews make an effort to go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Is 55:9 

God doesn’t make it easy on us. He didn’t make it easy on His Son, did he? He doesn’t want robots or blind, obedient children.  He wants His children to choose to love Him.  Despite the pain…the obstacles…the complacency…the fear…the doubts…or even the world, He wants us to choose Him…f.r.e.e.l.y.  A new covenant that is enhanced by the older covenant – all comes down to our choice to commit.  Do you have a special place where you go to feel closer to Our Father?

These days, church doors may have locks that keep us out, but there are always “areas” that beckon us to draw closer to God.  It is up to us to seek them out.  The Jews have an outer wall that surrounded their destroyed temple (Kotel ha-Ma’aravi).  Christ had the wilderness.  I have my shady garden and my writing desk.  God is where you stand on hallowed ground and seek Him.  Find your MaKOM and be amazed.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”  Matt 7:7

june 2014 011

Old Deuteronomy

Several years ago, when I was performing in CATS with a local theatre BookOfPracticalCatsgroup, Old Deuteronomy was the cat full of wisdom and grace.  Most musicals have a wise person passing out wonderfully timed wisdom to those seeking help.  Wisely, Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber had the sense not to change much of T.S. Eliot’s original poem, “Old Deuteronomy:

“Old Deuteronomy lived a long time;He’s a Cat who has lived many lives in succession, He was famous in Proverb and famous in rhyme, A long time before Queen Victoria’s accession…” 

Deuteronomy has never been one of those books that I spent much time studying in the past.  In fact, I spent very little time in the OT.  I just didn’t think it was necessary.  After all, I was a child of the New Covenant.   Jesus was where it was at…the narrow gate…the Way…       The sad part of this history lesson is that I don’t believe that my thinking is unusual.  Most of the churches I attended in my formative years (and I attended a bunch of different ones since I was usually getting paid to sing in their choirs) gave only a passing nod to the OT.  Besides, they only had so many Sundays to get across all those wonderful stories that happened between Matthew and Revelations. 

“Be silent, O Israel, and listen!  You have now become the people of the LORD your God…”  Deut 27:9b

Maybe it is because I always have so many questions.  Or maybe it is because I tend to rebel much more than most people would ever guess.  But the last couple of years, God has set my feet on this path of understanding the Jewish portion of Jesus, and why the Old Covenant is an integral portion of our redemption.  It has not been an easy journey (after all I do tend to be a little  – ok – more than a little – stubborn).  Reading the OT can be tedious at times and boring at best.  Timelines are confusing.  Names just don’t tumble off your lips.  And really?  All the violence and patriarchal society thing drives me nuts most of the time.  Just how does God’s people do all this nastiness, and He still loves them?  And then I look at me…and sigh.  If my life was miraculously dropped into the Bible, I would definitely fit right in with all of God’s nasty acting people.

“Old Deuteronomy sits in the street,  He sits in the High Street on Market Day.  The bullocks may bellow, the sheep they may bleat, But the dogs and the herdsmen will turn them away…”

Unlike the dogs and the herdsmen, Our Father doesn’t EVER turn us away when we seek Him out.  Our nastiness continues.  Violence — Wars — Terror —   yet — when God’s people continue to trust and put their faith in I AM, the miracles follow.  GRACE.  My Bible’s study guide says that the theme of Deuteronomy is “Devote yourself wholeheartedly to God”.  I keep trying to remember that as I am reading it.  It is a book full of Moses’ final words to God’s people. It was the end of the 40 year journey.  It was the start of a new life in a new country.  Finally, it is the land of “Milk and Honey”, and it was in front of them.

“Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants…’” Deut 34:4b

It is just something to think about as we watch the world unravel.

WORDS OF ADVENT

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 the world “Be Breakin’ Good” during every step that we take during this holy season (thanks Robert Paterson) —

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 “Chayeni”, the Hebrew word meaning “Life You” takes on new meaning we follow the true Star of David. Ps 119:25 (thanks, James Switzer)

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!!

advent 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.

advent journey a“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

advent mapWe 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.

jewish templeSince 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