Friday, December 20, 2013
and so i find myself being critical when i hear of people who refuse to sing christmas songs during advent, or who will only speak of waiting for the birth of Jesus prior to december 25 and will not celebrate the reality that He is already here. but over the past few days i have also been reminded of several things. first, it isn't a bad thing to really think about and ponder what it must have been like to wait, and wait, and wait for the Messiah...for centuries...often with no word or no prophecy or no murmur of when Jesus might finally come. second, as much as i STRONGLY believe that we are to celebrate the incarnation and what that means for humanity on a DAILY basis, it isn't right to act as if the current state of the world is redeemed. we are in the process of redemption, but that process isn't finished. and so we still wait...for Jesus to come (again), and for the full consummation of redemption to be fulfilled.
and while i don't think it necessary to go so far as to refuse to sing "joy to the world" before december 25, the heart of that idea is meaningful. we do already have joy...but we don't have perfect joy. we do already have peace...but we don't have perfect peace. and we do have hope...which seems to entail that there is something we hope for. hope is something that we look toward...something in the future...something that we anticipate. and so, while i don't plan to put off celebrating the incarnation throughout the christmas season (and throughout the year), i do see value in recognizing and sitting in that tension of "already but not yet." we already have Jesus, but we have not yet seen the fulfillment of all that He has promised. we are no longer in darkness, but we have not seen the FULL light of His face.
i was reading luke 1:78-79, where zechariah is prophesying regarding john preparing the way for Jesus, and he states: "because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." i love the part about the sunrise visiting us from on high. this speaks to the anticipation that the night will give way to the day, and the sunrise will pierce through the darkness. mankind experienced this in part with the birth of Jesus. but we still await that future sunrise...the ultimate one...when Jesus will return and will eliminate even the tiniest hint of darkness in the farthest away corners.
to those of you who are like me and who flee from tradition and liturgy, perhaps the biggest thing we need to guard against is becoming satisfied with the amount of Jesus we already have. while not rejoicing in our present salvation is wrong, rejoicing too much in how things are and consequently not longing for the hope of future redemption and full reconciliation is wrong as well. finding the balance between the two - that's the hard part. and that's where Jesus gives us freedom to figure out what works for us (so if you love liturgy and connect to Jesus through it, go for it!). for me, that means not worrying too much about religious traditions and liturgy, but yet participating in things (like lighting the advent wreath) that help me to focus on the "already but not yet" aspect of redemption. and for others, the practical applications are numerous. the important things is that, whatever it looks like for us as individuals, we live in the tension of a Savior who has already come, but also a Savior whose return we eagerly anticipate.
thank you Jesus that you already came! and thank you Jesus that you've yet to come. for this, we wait in hopeful anticipation.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance”
Friday, January 11, 2013
i listened from home this january to each of the eight sessions from passion 2013 in atlanta. my heart broke under the weight of the knowledge that 27 million people are in forced slavery around the world, and yet i was immensely encouraged by the fact that students around the world are committed to shining a light on this massive problem. (check out enditmovement.com).
i've been thinking a lot about my role in this fight to end slavery. one of the organizations highlighted at the conference was slaveryfootprint.org. on their website, you can take a short quiz to find out roughly how many slaves indirectly work for you. i would encourage you to take the quiz. it will probably mess you up. i took the quiz. it messed me up. the results told me that 47 slaves work for me. seriously? 47? when i read that, i just cried. i care about slavery. i want it abolished. i hate slavery. i want the slaves to be free. how on earth can i be supporting 47 slaves?
on wednesday i had a really good conversation with margaret. i shared with her my frustration over not knowing what to do. the most frustrating thing is that i don't know HOW i'm perpetuating the slavery of 47 people. perhaps there is some tiny component in my computer that was manufactured by a slave. perhaps a piece of my car was assembled by a slave. perhaps there is one ingredient in something i ate today that was harvested by a slave. i feel so helpless, because i don't know precisely how to live my life differently so as to support fewer and fewer slaves working on my behalf.
at passion it seemed that the main way people were being encouraged to do something about this problem is to raise awareness. they said that raising awareness IS doing something. which is a good thing - because at this precise moment i really don't know what to tangibly do aside from raising awareness. i would love to know how all of the components of every item i buy were acquired, made, assembled, etc. but for now that information is not available. perhaps through raising awareness, this information WILL be available in the future. i hope so. because there is one thing i know for sure...i DON'T want to contribute to 47 people being held in the bondage of slavery. i want all 27 million slaves to be free.
another thing margaret said, which is so incredibly true, is that this in not an issue i (or we) have to tackle alone. of course we have a community of people who love Jesus who are in this fight with us. but even better than that, we have Jesus himself who is in the fight with us. He hates slavery infinitely more than we do. He is all about freeing people WAY more than we are. and He is SO much more powerful than we will ever be.
so for now i guess i'll wait to hear from The One who is in control. i will pray that when He wants me to act, i'll know how to act and what to do. i'll pray that when He has a job for me to do, i'll do it diligently. i will tell people about slavery - and when i'm supposed to do more than that, He'll tell me.
for those of you who are in this fight as well, let's chat. we CAN do something, and there is most definitely strength in believers uniting with Christ and one another, syncing up our heartbeats with His.
i'm in it to end it. free the slaves.
This blog is a testimony to the work that God is perpetually acting in my life. I am learning that when I think I've given enough of myself, I've barely begun. My prayer is that as God continues to grab hold of my life, not only will He become greater and I become less, but He will become ultimately supreme and I will vanish. This Holy Disappearance will be a lifelong journey in which, by the grace of God, I will become so wrapped up in Him that all of me will disappear and all of Him will SHINE