Tag Archives: Rabbi Yeshua

ANI LO

Weather perfect. Patio swing while reading a book even more perfect. Watching the humming birds and the butterflies dart around the garden beyond perfect. Days to whisper, “Ani Lo. Ani Lo.” These are the kind of days that make one forget that the gates of the original perfect garden are locked and guarded by the flaming sword of an archangel.
 
The curse began on that day. Hiding in the bushes. Furtive glances. Rebellious excuses. Until that one special day when the curse was broken. But once again – the Bride rejected the gift. Locked, hidden gates until the Bride gathers her wits (which – even now – seem to be severely hampered by the Bride’s own selfish desires), makes the journey through the desert to the Promised Land with shouts that reverberate against the land, “Ani Lo. Ani Lo.”
 
“The entire people raised their voices and cried out,
and the people wept on that night.”~Num 14:1
 
By Jewish calendar, tonight’s sundown is the beginning of the 9th of Av. A cursed day. A day when the Jewish people rejected their Father’s gift and mourned their fate instead of rejoicing at the wedding feast of their people to a new land.
 
Actions have consequences.
 
Jewish tradition teaches that a day which should have been spent rejoicing and dancing became a day for mourning and rending of clothes for real. A day that continually brings sadness to the Jewish people. A day to fast and remember that actions have consequences.
 
There are many incidents recorded in Jewish His-story on this day.The first temple (423 BCE) – the second temple (69 CE) – both destroyed on the 9th of Av. Continuing through the centuries like a slithering serpent always striking the Jewish people on the same day. A few of many:
133 CE – final Roman conquest.
1290 CE – Jews expelled from England.
1492 CE – final date the Jewish people were allowed to live in Spain.
1914 the War to end all wars that continued into WWII and the Holocaust began on this date.
 
“…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”~Rm 5:3-5
 
Rabbi Yeshua was raised with Jewish traditions and His-story. He understood that actions have consequences. His actions broke the curse but not the people. He couldn’t demand they accept His wedding gift. After all, free will was a gift from the beginning. All He could do was offer the gift and wait to hear her response…
 
“Ani Lo. Ani Lo.” [google images]

Advertisements

NEVER ALONE

It is Grands’ night. Hot tub – mac n’ cheese Papa style – Wii – 2 bowls of popcorn (half of it on the bed) – 1 bottle of Grandma water (a piece) – 3 peep Oreos each – 1 movie – drawing the last picture of the night in their little notebooks – a little Jim Brickman lullaby in the background – 1 Koayah puppy squished in the middle of them – and they are asleep. (and yes – Mama – they brushed their teeth extra good because I threatened never to spoil them again. Although – I don’t think they really believed me. They kept laughing.)

I don’t know who enjoys these nights more. We talk. We catch up on their ball practices and school. We talk about coloring duck eggs with their neighborhood besties tomorrow and laugh over a stubbed toe. There is nothing more precious than getting to spend a night with the Grands. I only wish I could have retired about 13 years earlier so I could have moved to MI to be with my older Grands…well…that is probably stretching it a bit since a MI winter is definitely not on my to-do-over-list.

It is not how I usually spend my evenings on Maundy Thursday. Growing up, we would go to church. Later in college and beyond, our family would go to church. Full of familiar rituals, age-old hymns, prayers, solemnity. In the past few years, this night has been more an internal day and today was an eye opener.

The Grands and I were on the bed, watching Prince of Egypt in honor of Passover when it dawned on me. This was probably a closer way to spend this Holy Day than anything I have everdone. The Grands and I shared a meal. We laughed and told stories. We remembered the Moshe and the first deliverence of the Jewish people. We sang a song – it wasn’t Psalm 118 which is the Psalm sung at the Passover Seder – but in my heart it was singing.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.”~Psalm 118:1

And now – in the quiet of the night – my prayers circling to the darkened, star-lit skies – Grands stretched out all over the large bed – dog snuggled in their own bed while Hubby snores softly in his – I find my cornerstone of this night. The stone rejected steadies my balance and holds me upright. Even has a yawn stretches up through my rib cage and my eyes grow heavy, I struggle to stay awake and pray with Him.

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”~Mk 14:32–34

This is the part of the night that hits Rabbi Yeshua’s humanness – hits my humanness. I don’t do well with sacrifice. I like to think I do, but I don’t. I know my eyes – like the loved ones who shared the meal with their beloved rabbi – mine will also close before long, and my prayers will rise into the darkness above me.
 
Alone. He. Prayed.
Alone. He. Cried.
Alone…but not really.
 
The perfect lamb alone in a garden…waiting to become the rejected stone…waiting to sacrifice himself for the world that rejected him…waiting for you…waiting for me, straining to listen for His Father’s voice. No words came. No sign. Just the quite of the night. But that is where Yeshua’s humanness and mine are miles apart because even though he did not “feel” His Father or “hear” His Father or “see” a sign from His Father. He “knew beyond knowing” that His Father was very much present. Listening. Seeing. Loving. Eternally. 
 
The solemnity of the night has wrapped itself around me once again. I wish I always “knew beyond knowing” like my Savior. It is something I still a striving to find. Another yawn brings tears to the surface of my eyes, and I know it is time to check on the Grands once last time before I give in and close my eyes for the night.
 
Mothering habits don’t really ever go away, and I will probably wake up before daybreak and check on them once again. Tonight, I will remember that Rabbi Yeshua was still awake praying. Praying as he waited. Talking to His Father. Trusting His Father. Waiting. But not alone. Never alone.
 
Tonight that is what I remember when I think of Maundy Thursday. Never alone. Ever. Not once.

 

“The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.
This is the day the LORD has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps 118:22-24

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]

ORNERY SHEEP

Ornery sheep just are. They think the grass is greener on the other side of the field. Maybe they have a buzzing in their ears that keeps them from hearing the special voice of their shepherd. Or maybe – they are just adventurous and want to see what is on the other side of the mountain.

But ornery sheep are pretty defenseless. They get sidetracked by tasty grass or a lazy afternoon nap or caught between a rock and a hard place. Sometimes, those ornery sheep just miss the danger clues that a shepherd could have given them.

I would imagine that shepherds get pretty frustrated at times with their ornery little critters, and until that ornery one figures out the strange un-like sheep voice that calls them by name, life is probably pretty complicated. No matter how you look at it, loving a group of orneriness – whether sheep or humans or angelic beings – sometimes just takes superhuman love and maybe a voice that can pierce the clamor of the chaotic darkness by calling the name of the ornery one.

There came a day when Yeshua, the carpenter, cleaned his tools, talked to his siblings, hugged his mother and walked out the door in search of some ornery sheep. Since he had grown in stature and wisdom (Lk 2), he knew the voices of his lost sheep, and he knew the voice of His Father’s love and grace.

Wearing but the clothes he needed, he began a journey to rescue the orneriest of sheep. Yeshua knew the Father as surely as he knew himself. He knew that any lamb to be sacrificed needed to be declared pure and without blemish. A pure priest of Aaron in both maternal and paternal line, A priest uncorrupted by the politics of the Sanhedrin. A priest calling in the wilderness. A priest who was calling, listening, and watching for the “one to come after…” him.

“It happened that when he had baptized all the people, he baptized Yeshua also, and as he prayed, the heavens were opened. And The Spirit of Holiness was descending upon him in the form of a body of a dove, and there was a voice from Heaven, which said, “You are My Son, The Beloved, in whom I am delighted.”~Lk 3:21-22

G-d is faithful to all the feasts and covenants that He made with His people. Yeshua held them in his heart as well. When I look at all the ties between Passover and Easter, I feel deeply that there are many more things that happened like that in Yeshua’s journey, so that those with eyes to see and ears to hear would recognize the voice of the shepherd calling out.

When I imagine it in my head, I like to think that the man Yeshua chose to walk away from his earthly life around the time of the Jewish Festival of Lights – just because he would be the Light in that – clamor of chaotic darkness. The man Yeshua walked into the Jordan River to be sanctified by a priest as the perfect, unblemished lamb of G-d, blessed by his heavenly father’s voice and walked out to become Rabbi Yeshua.

A little over three years later, that same lamb – sanctified as pure and unblemished – would be condemned by the head priest as in accordance with the law as the Passover lamb. Led to slaughter for the redemption of all the sins of the ornery sheep no matter who they were – what they had done – or where they lived. The Lamb was sacrificed for all ornery sheep and became the Christus.

Ornery sheep are still out there. There is one sitting in a chair tonight and typing a blog. The shepherd is still calling. He calls me by name and the tears flow once again. Hopefully, ornery sheep everywhere will recognize His voice and run – run as fast as they can to the gate that only He can open. [google images]

ASHES

The winds pushed through the warm house carrying the constant, varied notes of the multiple wind chimes that encircle our quirky home. When the hail began to pelt the tender plants trying to arise from their winter brokenness, the fearless labs suddenly wanted to be under my feet. Thunder boomers gave way to brilliant flashes, and I looked outside at the early darkness.
 
The ashes of a day drawing to a close.
 
Lent.
 
The period of time when a man pulled his mantle about him and began the final portion of his own days on earth. He knew what lay ahead. Perhaps not the exact ways, hows or wherefores. After all, He was still a man, and it was imperative that the perfect lamb be a lamb of this world in all ways The Spirit of the Father rested within the mantle of Rabbi Yeshua’s shell for the past three years and he pulled it physically and spiritually close around him as he turned his feet towards Jerusalem.
 
The Holy Spirit of God on earth – outside the tent of the temple – inside the soul of a man.
 
The storm has passed by our house tonight. The wind has gentled and only an occasional note blows through my open window. The fearless girls have drifted back to their beds and the ashes of my day are dwindling down to just a few tiny pieces.
 
As always I wish I could have been a bug on his shoulder, a child at his feet, a flower that he picked to give to a friend. To hear. To see. To sit at his feet. To feel his hand on my head as he prayed for a field full of seekers. A rabbi full of wisdom and the Spirt of His Father.
 
The Bible describes some creations that surround the throne of God praying and praising continuously. I used to wonder, ‘Wouldn’t that get boring?’ Wisdom whispers, ‘Wrong’. And I laugh. There is evolution in all things. Learning. Sharing. Praising. Knowing.
 
When the perfect lamb walked towards Jerusalem, he understood that the curtains would be torn and the outer doors of the court would open on their own as a testimony to all who had eyes to see and ears to listen. No longer would the Spirit of the Father be separate. No longer would they stand outside the golden doors waiting for priests to open them. No longer would a curtain separate them from the Holy of Holies.
 
Rabbi Yeshua wore his mantle and talked to the disciples of things they did not understand yet, but they would. He did miracles that they could not do, but they would. He told them to be salt in the earth, and they would. He talked about not faltering, and they didn’t. He talked about sharing love, and they went into the world and changed it forever.
 
As the Perfect Lamb made his way towards Jerusalem, he knew that the ashes of the sacrificial fires would be blown into the annuals of His-story and used only as a reminder of his last journey. Dark ashes spread across the forehead. Dark ashes that speak of an ending. Dark ashes that show the remnants of a dying former life before the glorious birth of a new day – a new covenant.
 
Tonight as I wash my face, I will remember. I will pray.for understanding. Pray for miracles that are yet to come. Pray to be salt. Pray that I don’t falter. Pray that I continue to share love and change the world in His holy name. Blessings!Be!
 
“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
until justice prevails throughout the earth.
Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction”~Is 42:1-4
[google images] [art work entitled: “Jerusalem” by Yoram Raanan]

PACZKIS

Ok – here it is – another “Fat Tuesday” – another Mardi Gras – another Shrove Tuesday – and I have yet to find Paczkis in NC. Oh – I could travel 50 miles and find some, but that isn’t really my idea of fun. Surely somewhere within a smaller circle of miles there must be a Polish baker who understands my pain. My former principal certainly doesn’t. She sent me a taunting text last night, and I cried myself to sleep…dreaming of those gut-busting, delicious doughnuts.

So instead – I went and picked up the Grandson, spread my metaphorical mantle over the both of us and rejoiced in his hugs and curious nature. (I’m not quite sure what I will do when he decides to be too big to hug on Grandma all the time. His sister is almost there and it is not easy on the Grandma – sigh)

I tend to think this was a much better way to spend “Fat Tuesday” since ingesting multiple varieties of ol’ Paczkis (can’t say that word anyway) would lead to me having to find a much larger mantle to cover the expanding gut. Soooo – as he curled into my lap (while eating mac ‘n cheese), we read a Pete the Cat book AND solved the major problem of all board games. We figured out that if one dice does not give you the number you want in a board game, there is another cube hidden deep in a drawer that may just be the lucky one you need.

“Elijah went up to him and threw his mantle around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah.”~1 Kg 19:19-20

Today, I was reading about the passing of mantles in the Bible world. A mantle was more than just a physical covering that enfolded the prophet or rabbi’s shoulders. It was the spiritual calling, the anointing of God’s blessing and covering presence upon that individual for the Ivrim (Hebrews) and later for the world.

Moshe, as he ascended the mountain for the last time, laid his hands and his mantle upon Joshua. When Elijah dropped his mantle to the ground as the chariot of fire came and whisked him away to heaven, his disciple, Elisha, reached down and picked it up, The spirit of Elijah – the spirit of Elohim came upon him. Each leader – each prophet – each rabbi – passed on his mantle.

[Elisha] took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.”~2 Kg 2:14

When Yeshua entered into the Jordan to be baptized, John passed the mantle just as his ancestors had done. And just as before, the Spirit of the Father descended and covered the man who had chosen to pick it up and carry it forward. But this is where it changes. The mantle Rabbi Yeshua carried could never be carried by just one man ever again. Instead, when He laid down His mantle, the Holy Spirit of God enveloped all who choose to pick up the mantle. We celebrate this day by calling it Pentecost, but in truth, whenever one God’s children chooses to pick up the mantle, to be born-again, the Spirit of God is present as well.

“And during the arriving of the day of Pentecost, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound like a violent rushing wind came out of heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them dividing tongues as of fire and sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit was giving to them to utter forth.”~Acts 2:1-4

“Shrove Tuesday” – “Fat Tuesday” – Mardi Gras – however you want to refer to it – was all about spreading my own cozy mantle. Spreading the mantle instead of the girth of my belly. I guess, I’m not ready to lay down my mantle yet. He keeps tell me there are some more rabbi days left in me and most of the time – I tend to believe Him. I just wish he would be a clearer on the specifics of it all. Looking at the backside of a tapestry is a puzzle my brain doesn’t always decipher well.

In any case, day-by-day, I’m definitely spreading my own mantle out over the shoulders of those around me – physically and metaphorically. FB, blogs and Goggle docs keep me writing, editing and teaching in more ways than the traditional classroom allows, and I am enjoying it. I’m also enjoying cuddling under my mantle with the Grands – even techno cuddling via FB with my MI Grands. The blessings of His Mantle never fails.

DEEP DARKNESS

The advent candles are growing dim as if they have become sentient and know on some level that it is time to remember – time to remember when the darkness that covered the earth became even darker than dark. So I watch as one by one, the batteries give out and darkness takes over my windows.

I know it is time – after all – Easter is the resolution of Part 2 of His Creation story. Time to remember a climax that had been written in His Son’s blood as it shook the earth, tore the curtains of the covenant and scattered the rest of His children in all directions. But the theme – the theme that had been building through every story written in the His-tory of His children – burst forth on the third day. What English teacher couldn’t love that story?

Tonight I walked the puppies over to the new shed the darkness was fairly deep. The moon still on the other side of the horizon makes it harder for  the old eyes that take just a little longer to adjust these days. But there were stars. Stars bright enough to draw my eyes upward. On the way back, we sat for a few minuets by a smoldering fire. Without so many trees in the way, I can sit on our patio and just enjoy the view. Where, on moonless nights like tonight, the dark is deep and the stars blink patterns that make me wonder about all the blessings in my life.

Rabbi Yeshua hinted that it is in our deepest darkness that we can find the blessings that were created and placed there long ago just for us to find when we need them. Merely by holding on to a mustard seed of faith, we manage to cast of our boat into the darkness of the night and throw out our nets into the deepness of His waters. [Luke 5:4-11]

Tonight as I lock the doors, and coerce the sisters off the couch for our walk to bed, that I begin to let the praises of the day rise to the forefront of my mind. Thankful thoughts for my family, friends and neighborhood circling within my sphere of life like the hours circle the fulfillment of a day.

Thankful for Grandson who runs up the driveway every time I come to his house just to hug me through the window one last time.

Thankful for dogs who love to chase sticks or balls anytime I want to throw one.

Thankful for former students (and Grands far away) who still keep me laughing as I edit their papers and get a peek into their current lives.

Thankful for the beautiful day to rake leaves and plant our tub garden.

Thankful for  a resolution that continues to blaze within me everyday.

Thankful for candle batteries that die to reveal the deep darkness.

Thankful for a boat and the flickering verses of the WORD that light the way.

Thankful for all the blessings that I caught in my net today and for the ones I have yet to discover tomorrow.

“May the God of your father help you;
may the Almighty bless you
with the blessings of the heavens above,
and blessings of the watery depths below,
and blessings of the breasts and womb.
May the blessings of your father
surpass the blessings of the ancient mountains,e
reaching to the heights of the eternal hills.”~Gen 49:24-26a

GOLDEN CALVES 2017

“Alas, institutions often become idolatrous in their efforts to protect and preserve themselves. Institutions do not like being vulnerable.”~Madeleine L’Engle “Penguins & Golden Calves

Just an interesting thought on this 3rd day of January 2017. Pondering all the institutions that surround us in our daily walk and potential institutions as AI looms closer. Google that silently waits, listens, records (?) for the voice to call out a search command. Political parties that continually seek ways to destroy other political parties. Business, church, banking, technology, sameness…the list is endless. L’Engle compared it to the religious institution that killed a man named Rabbi Yeshua who threatened the status quo.

Institutions are comforting. Humans like them because they tend make everyday life easier. After all – paving new roads is, generally, hard work. But – Institutions are driven by people – some seeking to help – some seeking power. Man-made institutions. Even God-made institutions – headed up by people – changed – because that’s just what humans do. We build towers. We raise our fists continuously challenging the One who Loves us best – His Son by His side – Grace in His left hand – Blessings in His right – Lighting a path to walk beyond the institutions – Eternal Hope – World without end – Amen and amen.

Always interesting to ponder things you discover in daily devotions.

Jehoshaphat’s prayer: “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”~2 Chron 20:12

#sinissinissin #Godismoving

ADVENT LOVE #3: Pen-pal Parable

Long ago, I had a pen-pal in Canada. A friend of my parents had relatives in Canada and somehow – we became pen-pals. I don’t remember much about those letters, but I sure wish I could be a timeless cherub and look over my shoulder as I wrote them or as I read the letters from Carole that came back to me.

Carole disappeared from my life around those crazy teen years in the 60’s. I’m not sure who stopped writing first, but we were both about the same age, so I guess it was a mutual decision. One thing I do know – it started my fascination with the mailbox and with using pen and paper to express my thoughts. I’ve never gotten over it.

Today, I got a Christmas card and note from a newer pen-pal. We started corresponding a few years before I retired. We don’t write often, but when a letter comes, I am just as excited as I was long ago. I always find a quiet corner (so I can hear their voice in my head) and open that letter last (save the best for last adage always works for me).

Anyway, Judith’s card was a simple reminder of what this whole week before Christmas should be about. Not rushing to the store. Not worrying about lists. Not last minute decorations that aren’t working. Simple stories. Stories like the ones Rabbi Yeshua would use. Judith sent me a Christmas parable that I hadn’t seen for a long time. It is well worth sharing on this 3rd night of LOVE.

“Christmas Eve as the great evergreens were hauled into the convent sanctuary, a little bird which had found shelter in one of the trees was brought into chapel with it. Windows and doors were thrown open – but in his frantic attempts to escape, he dashed himself against the walls and ceiling.

As a sister watched in anguish, she thought – ‘If I could just become a little bird myself, I could show him how to get out. He would not be afraid to follow another bird.’

When at last he blundered his way out, it occurred to her: ‘Mankind was lost, bewildered and trapped. God, himself, cared enough to become a human being to rescue us.’

That is the meaning of the Incarnation.”

Pen pals are a blessing in many ways. Today my pen-pal was a unexpected Christ-mass Blessing. As we enter the last few days of this blessed season, may unexpected Christ-mass Blessings circle round you and your family.

[google images]

Advent Hope #4: Be Alert

Today I saw a posting on FB from a Dollywood employee in TN. The wildfire had touched the entertainment park, but it was not destroyed it, so they were cleaning up. He described finding a ripped, burned page of a Bible under a bench. The verses of Joel were not all legible, but the ones that were made references to fires and the day of the LORD being at hand.
 
I began to ponder – – – again. Pondering can be a good thing; it can also be a real faith knocker. The pondering, skeptical mind rationalizes this worker. Did he truly “find” it? Is he an internet glory seeker? Even that random thought – what’s on the other side of that page? (If it is like my study bible, there are just notes about Joel and the times in which he lived.)
 
I get frustrated with myself when I let world views intrude on things that I just want to get excited about. However, it was when I was reading Max Lucado’s Because of Christmas devotional guide, that the pondering stopped and faith took over.
 
“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”~Mk 13:33
 
Mary was an exceptional person of faith. Scripture tells us that after she got over the idea of standing in the presence of an angel, she accepted the words immediately into her whole self. Her Magnificat when she greets her cousin Elizabeth has always been one of my favorite parts of the Bible.
 
Joseph on the other hand was – perhaps a lot like me – a kind-hearted, person- – – but – – – not so full of faith. He couldn’t just take the word of his espoused wife, but he didn’t want any harm to come to her, so he planned to divorce her quietly (Matt 1:19). So BAM – angel returns – speaks his message, and Joseph and Mary are off to Bethlehem.
 
Which I guess brings me to the whole pondering bit again. Just think how many people didn’t listen to the prophets or the angels or the signs in the heavens? They were reasonable people. Educated people. People who went to Temple and sacrificed regularly. Worked to make their community better. Loved their neighbors as themselves. And really? Talk about the Messiah had been going on since the times of Genesis (3:15). So why here? Why this couple? Why now?
 
Which brings me back to that earlier post that set all this pondering into motion today. Why not here? Why not Issac McCord? Why not now? God has sent messages in many different ways to His people over the centuries. Rabbi Yeshua said, “Be on guard! Be alert!” “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…”
 
Believe me, tonight I am praying on building my faith a little more. To be more alert and on guard – to listen with spiritual ears and see with spiritual eyes. We are in the season of celebrating Christ’s first advent into our world – but we are living in the days of his second advent onto Terra – whether it is tomorrow – a week – a month – a year – or decades from now. We merely have to get dressed for the wedding and wait. Geez – faith journeys are really not very easy, but I’m trying in this Advent of Hope. #perhapstomorrow [google images]

BTW – Today’s art work is by an Israeli man, Yoram Raanan, whose art studio was destroyed by one of the wildfires last week in Israel. It seemed appropriate to use it in so many ways.