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

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

Returning and Remaining @Home with God

As Jesus encounters more misunderstanding, opposition, false accusation and threat of harm, he returns to the place where he heard his Father say, "You are my beloved son. I am well pleased with you." This place of the River Jordan where John baptized is steeped in significance. It is here, where God delivered the wandering Israelites. They witnessed the river stop flowing and crossed over on dry land to enter into the promised land - a land flowing with milk and honey. Here God's people erected 12 stones as a remembrance of God's faithfulness to the 12 tribes of Israel. Will you join Jesus in this place and remember what happened here? What was said here? God will bring each of us home where we hear again, "I am God's beloved. I am well pleased with you."

John 10:31-42 (ESV)
The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.

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 to and allow the Father to minister to you there.

What touches you about Jesus in this word? Talk it over with him.

print pdf here

 

Savoring Consolation

According to David, our lives are an open book to God, the one who compassionately formed us and made us. Our Father, our Abba, never takes the eyes off of us and is not afraid of the paradoxes, complexities and longings of our lives.
Consider reflecting, remembering, receiving and resting into the consolations God brings. This too is prayer. Savor God's goodness to you, demonstrated in ways unique to your life and design.

Psalm 139:11-18 (NLT)
I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word, phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer. Journal your conversation.

Reflect on your own experience of darkness. What affect has it had on you? How has darkness formed you? How has Jesus been present to you in dark places?

Be still as you listen for God’s thoughts about you. What might God be whispering in your ear, telling you about you? What do you long to hear? Savor any consoling words which you hear.

Fleeing the Presence of Jesus

In their struggle to stay present with Jesus, these beloved companions eventually surrender to sleep. Jesus roused them as his betrayer approached, and in this text we witness the progression of fleeing the presence of Jesus. First the loved ones cannot stay internally present in their prayer, now they can no longer bear the fear and shame before them. One by one, they act out compelled by fear and shame, and eventually physically flee from Jesus. In the drama, chaos and contradiction of it all, Jesus is the only one who stays present to the reality before him. That day he said to them,

"Every day I was with you"

Today, he says to us,

"I am always with you"

Would you like to bring your fear, pain and shame and be with Jesus again in this moment?

For every child of God defeats the evil world
by trusting Christ to give us the victory.

1 John 5:4

Mark 14:43-52 (NIV)
Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Did a word or phrase speak to you as you listened to or read the text? Dwell with it. Be quiet with it. Gently bring it into your conversation with Jesus.

How have you experience betrayal, even being betrayed by a "kiss'? Can you share the pain of the betrayal with Jesus? How is he with you in it?

We all move in and out of living in the awareness of Jesus' presence with us. What helps you stay present? What distracts your from his presence? When do you notice yourself compelled to flee the present moment? Be gentle and kind with yourself as you explore these themes with Jesus. Come back to a safe place with Jesus, when you become frightened by your thoughts or memories.

Our Identity As Beloved

It is significant for our life to be able to absorb that as Christ is, so we also are in relationship with God. We are beloved. God is so pleased with us and takes great joy in us as we take steps that demonstrate our desire for God.

In this passage, as also with us, hearing and experiencing who we are as God's beloved as God's Spirit whispers into our soul, gives us courage and capacity to know how to stand in the face of deception, temptation, fears and anxieties. God's love and Spirit grounds us in our identity.  God's Word speaks truth to us and God's angels minister to us.

Mark 1:9-13 NLT
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting part and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a  dove. And a voice from heaven said, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy."

The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened? A word? A phrase?
How is your heart being spoken to at this moment?
What is God's invitation for you through what you heard?
What is your response/question?