Hope for the Homecoming

Amid tremendous darkness and despair in a time of exile, Isaiah speaks to the hope that is ours. The text gives us pause to wonder, what might our coming home to God be like today? And on that glorious day when Christ comes back in person to dwell with us here on earth? Notice the longings which rise up within you as you pray with this passage. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlarge your hope.

Isaiah 60:1-6 NLT

“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.

For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you.

2 Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,

but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.

3 All nations will come to your light;

mighty kings will come to see your radiance.

4 “Look and see, for everyone is coming home!

Your sons are coming from distant lands;

your little daughters will be carried home.

5 Your eyes will shine,

and your heart will thrill with joy,

for merchants from around the world will come to you.

They will bring you the wealth of many lands.

6 Vast caravans of camels will converge on you,

the camels of Midian and Ephah.

The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense

and will come worshiping the LORD.

For Your Reflection and Prayer:
What word, phrase or picture stood out to you as you listened to the text? Bring this into your conversation with God.

Which emotion rises up within you as you meditate on this passage? Where do you feel it in your body? Gently welcome it and bring it into your prayer.

Rest in any consoling words or images given to you in your prayer.

print pdf

Dressed From the Inside Out

Everyday, essential wisdom - that’s what we find in these few verses from Colossians. These are truths to linger in; truths we need to make room to soak into our soul and heal us. It can be tempting to take a willful approach to dressing ourselves in the character of Christ. Yet the kind of clothing mentioned here is the kind the Spirit forms in us over time, from the inside out. Certainly our willing cooperation is needed in dressing in God clothes. Often we need someone to see and recognize these qualities within ourselves. Their eyes and voices help us grow into our God clothes.
Love looks beautiful on you!

Colossians 3:12-17 NLT
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Colossians 3:12-17 TMG
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word or phrase that stood out for you – that spoke just to you? Note it here, and then write 2-3 sentences about it.

What did you notice was your inner response as you listened? (Agitated, confused, peaceful, joy-filled, hopeful, anger, nothing, etc.?)

Would you be willing to speak to Jesus about these feelings? You might express your gratitude, doubt, wonder, love, confusion, etc. to him. Linger in the presence of Jesus.

print pdf

All the Light We Need to Live In

Waiting in Advent is an invitation to keep looking for the light. This life of faith asks us to trust that our God will be faithful to provide all the light we need for where we are right now, in this present moment. Sometimes we are given glimmers of light upon the horizon and even then we do not always perceive it with our eyes. Sometimes it is a knowing in our spirit. And sometimes it seems as if it is only the Spirit which propels us to follow it. This is the vulnerable life of faith. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit will provide all the light we need to live in.

Isaiah 42:1-9 (TMG)
“Take a good look at my servant. I’m backing him to the hilt.
He’s the one I chose, and I couldn’t be more pleased with him.
I’ve bathed him with my Spirit, my life. He’ll set everything right among the nations.
He won’t call attention to what he does with loud speeches or gaudy parades.
He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.
He won’t tire out and quit. He won’t be stopped
until he’s finished his work—to set things right on earth.
Far-flung ocean islands wait expectantly for his teaching.”

GOD’s Message, the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies,
laid out the earth and all that grows from it,
Who breathes life into earth’s people, makes them alive with his own life:
“I am GOD. I have called you to live right and well.
I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.
I have set you among my people to bind them to me,
and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations,
To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light:
opening blind eyes,
releasing prisoners from dungeons,
emptying the dark prisons.
I am GOD. That’s my name. I don’t franchise my glory, don’t endorse the no-god idols.
Take note: The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled.
I’m announcing the new salvation work.
Before it bursts on the scene, I’m telling you all about it.”

Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” John 8:12

The City doesn’t need sun or moon for light. God’s Glory is its light, the Lamb its lamp! The nations will walk in its light and earth’s kings bring in their splendor. Rev. 21:24

For Reflection and Prayer:

If something captured your attention - a word, a phrase, an image - let this simmer in you and allow the Spirit to expand its meaning for you. Journal what you hear and your response.

Reflect on your own experience of light and darkness. How do you experience Christ with you in darkness and in the light? Bring this into your prayer.

Savor any consoling words or images given to you. Pause to rest in God’s care.

print pdf

When Hope Comes to Life

This Advent, we invite you to pray alongside us through the prophecy in Isaiah 42. Each week we will meditate on the fulfillment of that prophecy as recorded in the Gospels. Together we will watch and wait in hope. We have permission to linger in our waiting. There is no need to hurry. Hope comes alive in the person of Jesus - Emmanuel, God with us.

Isaiah 42:1-9 (NLT)

“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.

2 He will not shout or raise his voice in public.

3 He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.

He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.

4 He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth.

Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.”

5 God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out.

He created the earth and everything in it.

He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth.

And it is he who says,

6 “I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.

I will take you by the hand and guard you,

and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them.

And you will be a light to guide the nations.

7 You will open the eyes of the blind.

You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.

8 “I am the LORD; that is my name!

I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.

9 Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again.

I will tell you the future before it happens.”

Matthew 12:18-22 (TMG)

Look well at my handpicked servant; I love him so much, take such delight in him. I’ve placed my Spirit on him; he’ll decree justice to the nations. But he won’t yell, won’t raise is voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner. Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.

For your reflection and prayer:

As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that shimmered for you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.

What longings rise up in you as you meditate on this passage? Journal or sketch them.

Slowly savor any consoling words or images which God gives you in this time of prayer. Simply rest in God’s presence with them.

print pdf

Surrender to God's Loving Hands

As the Gospel of John comes to a close, we are faced with our own mortality just as the early disciples were. Though our freedom to choose seems to change with age, time and circumstance, Jesus ultimately reminds us of our ultimate freedom to choose to entrust ourselves to him. Can we trust that his hands will hold us no matter what we face? what fears assail us? or circumstances befall us? John implores us to know this Jesus whose perfect love heals, restores and casts out all fear. We can test him with our lives in this and discover for ourselves that he is trustworthy and true.

John 21:18-25 (NLT)
“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.

25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

For Reflection and Prayer:
If something captured your attention - a word, a phrase, an image - let this simmer in you and allow the Spirit to expand its meaning for you. Journal what you hear and your response.

Where have you experienced being led to a place where you do not want to go? How has God been with you there? Journal about your experience and talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Quietly rest with God and any consoling words or images given to you in this time of prayer.

print pdf

Do You Love Me?

Once again, we witness Jesus giving himself to his disciples. He intimately knows how weary these fishermen are. He knows they need to rest and be restored before they are sent out again. So he gives of himself, his body, symbolized by the bread to feed and nourish his friends. Christ feeds these dear ones with his presence as a tangible embodiment of his love. The natural response is to deepen the bond of loving trust. The conversation Jesus shares with Peter serves to strengthen the connection between nourishment and love. We love the One who satisfies our soul.

John 21:12-17 (NLT)

“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

How do you hear the tone of Jesus’ voice here? What do you notice? How does it affect your experience of prayer with Jesus?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Healing Trauma

Living through grief, loss or traumatic events will have an effect on the whole of our being: our body, our mind and our soul. Safe, loving community and familiar routines can help us begin our lives again. Yet more is needed. We long for healing of the pain and fear. We yearn for the restoration towards wholeness. Jesus too longs to be present to us in these places of need and yearning. He offers his comforting presence, his understanding, his hope, his provision and very real practical, care for our bodies. As your pray with this text, consider how Jesus might be inviting you to participate in his compassionate care towards yourself. What rest and nourishment does your body, mind and soul need today?

John 21:1-11 (NLT)

Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture?

Journal about it. Where do you sense that emotion in your body? What does that emotion tell you about your need or hope?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

print pdf

Wrestling with Belief

In this tender scene, Jesus gently beckons Thomas towards the place where Thomas has honestly wrestled with belief. This poignant interaction can fuel our courage to be honest with our questions of faith and allow Jesus to meet us there. He invites us to come close enough to touch and see him for ourselves. Our prayer helps us draw close. Watchful waiting in the ordinary moments of our lives will train us to see.

John 20:24-31 (NLT)

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Place yourself into this scene. Who are you? What feelings and thoughts are going on inside of you as this scene unfolds? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Where have you or long to experience Jesus loving you in such a humble way? Journal about that experience or your longing.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

print pdf

Surprised by Christ's Presence

Has Jesus ever startled you? Suddenly showed up in a place or situation you weren’t expecting? Join the disciples behind the locked doors in this passage and experience with them as they behold a living, breathing, healed Jesus. Receive His peace. Feel His breath. Ponder the power of healed wounds.

John 20:19-23 NLT

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

If something captured your attention - a word, a phrase, an image - let this simmer in you and allow the Spirit to expand its meaning for you.

Notice any place of consolation or desolation that you experienced as you listened and allow the Trinity to minister to you there.

This text is full of tactile and sensory observations. How is it for you to place yourself in this story? Which of your senses are affected? Bring this affect into conversation with Jesus.

print pdf

Signs & Evidence of New Life

One of the most significant shifts in my faith has been the inclination to look and keep watch for signs of new life. Evidence of God’s continual work of renewal is oftentimes very difficult to see. Today’s text points to specific observations and details in an empty tomb.

May we keep turning to wonder in empty, dead places. Jesus how are you renewing life here and now?

John 20:1-10 (NLT)
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— 9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

print pdf