Sunday, July 7, 2013

Come to the Wilderness

Are you like me? Somewhere along the path of faith did you come to think of the wilderness as a place of spiritual dryness? a place to be avoided? a place of hunger and thirst? Through this morning’s service, I am coming to a new understanding of the wilderness.

The sermon this morning was from Mark 6:30-44, The Feeding of the 5000. The disciples have just returned from a time of ministry, and Jesus invites them to, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” [Mark 6:31] Jesus invites them into the wilderness to rest. Wait - the wilderness? How can the wilderness provide them with rest? But it is there in the wilderness that Jesus fills their minds and hearts with teaching for most of the day. He provides the spiritual food they need. He restores their souls.

Then Jesus provides the disciples, along with all the others who have come to hear Him, the physical food they need to sustain them. Jesus invites them to sit on the green grass and eat. He breaks bread with them and for them, a foreshadowing of a meal yet to come. The disciples and the 5000 men are fed. They eat until they are satisfied. And after they are satisfied, the baskets overflow.

So many lessons are revealed in this account. But the one that hit me so hard today is that it is Jesus Himself who calls us into the wilderness. The wilderness need not be feared but can be entered boldly because we do not go into the wilderness alone. Jesus is there with us. He invites into a place that is desolate so that we will know beyond all shadow of a doubt that it is He alone who provides for us. The wilderness cannot meet our needs. But Jesus can. In the wilderness, Jesus fills us. He fills us until we are satisfied. And He satisfies us with Himself. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Christmas 2011 is now past. The hurry, the scurry, the busyness has come and gone. There settles over the house a contentment, a calm which contrasts to the last few weeks. I enjoy this week between Christmas and New Year’s – it is a time to slow down, to rest, to think and reflect.

During the holidays, I was drawn to this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. God kept dropping it in my path.
Advent is a time of waiting. Our whole life, however, is Advent--that is, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people are brothers and sisters and one rejoices in the words of the angels: “On earth peace to those on whom God's favor rests.” Learn to wait, because He has promised to come. "I stand at the door..." We however call to him: "Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!"
When Christ does return, we shall finally live in the world that we dream about, that we hope for each Christmas season: one in which love reigns, hopes are realized, people treasure one another.

And God will once again dwell with us.

“He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, the God Himself shall be among them.”

Though Christmas is over, we can still sing “Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Eve

As I reflect on Easter, my thoughts wander to what this weekend was like for Jesus' friends and family. They do not know that they are in the darkest hour of the universe's history. They do not know (as we now know) that death is about to be defeated. For now, for them, nothing is right.

They are living with the raw pain of grief. It was only yesterday that the Lord had died. Life has suddenly stopped. They cannot eat; they cannot sleep. They feel as if their hearts are breaking in two. At times it is hard to breathe. How can these things be? Exhaustion fills their souls.

Just as the pain seizes their hearts, questions flood their minds. Why did He have to die? Pilate said he could not find any guilt in Him. And then why did He have to die as a common criminal? And upon a cross? He did no wrong. Yet the crowd was so insistent: crucify Him, crucify Him. And now He is dead. He was the Messiah. But He lies dead.

It is hard to do anything. Nothing seems to matter anymore. The Master and Lord is gone. What now? Their days have been filled with following the Lord. What do they do now? Where do they go? And then another wave of grief sweeps over them. This day feels just as dark as those three hours of darkness when the Lord hung on the cross.

It is hard to leave the story here. I want to rush on to Easter morning. Yet for them, their Saturday was filled with the pain of the Lord's death.

Amazingly their pain was shared by another, by one who understood the depths of their heartache: their Heavenly Father. The Father had to turn His face away from His beloved Son - for He bore my sin as He hung upon the cross.