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.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Following Jesus - part 2

After posting yesterday about my desire to follow Jesus, I, of course, receive a severe blow today. ...Breathe deeply; eyes stay fixed on Him... What takes me by surprise and knocks the breathe out of me comes as no surprise to Him. In fact, He had to grant permission for it even to cross my path. I will choose to follow my thoughts of yesterday: I am just going to keep following Him. I will not look to the cliff on the left; I will not look at the dragons on the right. I will keep my eyes on Him. I will allow Him to fight the battle. I will follow where He leads - even through this valley. His invitation still reads, "Follow Me."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Following Jesus

I want to live in a way that is best described by Jesus' statement to his disciples, "Follow Me." I want to follow Jesus throughout my day - in the ordinary aspects, in the surprises, in the curve balls. I want to follow Jesus in my relationships - with my family, with my friends, with my coworkers. I want to follow Jesus as I work, and rest, and play. If I am following Jesus, I don't have to worry about where I am headed; I just need to follow the One in front of me. If I am following Jesus, I don't have to determine the way out of difficulties; I just need to follow the One who guides me. If I am following Jesus, I don't have to know the future; I just have to follow the One who holds it. Following Jesus makes life simpler. It provides great security. It allows me to live each moment, treasure each relationship, knowing that He who is faithful is holding all things together. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Made for Another World

C. S. Lewis' well-known quote from Mere Christianity resonates within me:
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
I find that I keep looking to this life for things that satisfy. I've tried before; I came up empty. But for some inexplicable reason I try again. But still the so-called pleasures of this world fail to quench the thirst deep within my soul. Thank Heaven they do not! For the dissatisfaction and the disappointment thrusts me to God. And there, as I breathe deep of His love, and of His grace, I find the promise of what is to come. I know that all will be well. And I strain forward, anxiously awaiting that world for which I was made.