Imagining Resplendent Glory

The book of Revelation invites us to imagine glory with descriptors such as sparkling, precious, illuminating light, splendor, resplendent, and translucent. These are phrases used to describe the most precious of stones, often only available for viewing at the most notable museums. Yet this glory is available to each of us even today. We can pause and turn our eyes towards those moments which pulse with God’s glory such as the sight or sound of sparkling waters, or dew drops at dawn, or the twinkle in a kind eye, or the compassionate smile of a stranger. Each instance, if we seek it, can enlarge our hope of the glory to come. It will be a glory without end.


Revelation 21:10-11, 22-26 NLT
So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone—like jasper as clear as crystal.

22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. 25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. 26 And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city.

Revelation 21:10-11, 22-26 TMG
He took me away in the Spirit to an enormous, high mountain and showed me Holy Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God, resplendent in the bright glory of God.

The main street of the City was pure gold, translucent as glass. But there was no sign of a Temple, for the Lord God—the Sovereign-Strong—and the Lamb are the Temple. 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. Its gates will never be shut by day, and there won’t be any night. They’ll bring the glory and honor of the nations into the City.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Is there a feeling that you notice? Enter into a conversation with Jesus.

Bring all your senses and imagination into this time of prayer. Journal about your experience.

What longings rise up within you? Bring them into your prayer. Rest in any consoling words of pictures God gives you.

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.

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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.

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The Voice For Our Benefit

The Father speaks another time to the crowd surrounding Jesus. Again it is difficult for the people to trust or discern the source of the voice. It might be easy to assume that the people in this text should have recognized and understood the voice from heaven. Instead, let us consider how we hear, discern and trust the voice of God. A willingness to pay attention and listen, a biblical understanding of the love and grace of God, prayerful reflection and conversations with wise, spiritual friends and mentors can help us discern what God is saying to us. What voices are you currently listening to? Where is God's voice leading you into the light?

John 12:28-37 NLT
Father, bring glory to your name.”
Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” 29 When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him.
30 Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate how he was going to die.
34 The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah would live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?”
35 Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. 36 Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”
After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them.
37 But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him.

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.

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Light Which Leads To Life

Spiritual darkness can feel overpowering and all together frightening. The daily news serves up a verbal and visual charred feast of such darkness. We might wonder, "how long O Lord"? How are we to pray? Will our individual voices and choices make any difference?  Yet we hope in the One who is in the process of restoring all things. Through trusting and walking intentionally in the spiritual light which is given each day, we participate with God in that process. Where are you discovering the light which leads to life? May we keep asking for eyes to see the light.

John 8:12-20 (NLT)
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
13 The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”
14 Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. 15 You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. 16 And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. 17 Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. 18 I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”
19 “Where is your father?” they asked.
Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” 20 Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.

For your reflection and prayer:
As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.

Place yourself in the story and enter into it as it unfolds. Who are you? Who is interacting with you and around you? What are you seeing, smelling, sensing, hearing, touching? Write about your experience in the story and allow it to be your prayer.

In this passage on discernment, where are you noticing light which leads to life? Reflect on what you notice.

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

On Pilgrimage to Worship

The text recounting the pilgrimage of the Magi is still relevant for us today. This group of wise ones paid attention to the light they did not fully understand and they courageously set out on pilgrimage to worship a King guided by a starlight. This starlight seems to appear and reappear, eventually hovering over the presence of Christ, where they were overcome with joy and responded by bending their knee in worship.

We too are on pilgrimage to recognize the presence of Christ before us. Right here. Right now. In this present moment. In what is in us and before us. It is a long journey often fraught with distractions, fear, shame, worry and harassment along the way. Yet the star still guides and the Christ is eager to be found by us.

God has chosen to make known...the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

 

Matthew 2:1-12 (NLT)
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
    are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
    who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

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.

Consider the starlight God has provided for you. Where has it led you in the past? What markers help you discern that this starlight is from God?

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

Bearing Witness

The privilege of every Christian is to bear witness to the Light of Christ. We are called to look with our eyes for the Light in others and in the world around us.
There is Light which we cannot see yet we can discern through our other senses:
listening with our ears and heart;
    touching and being touched;
          tasting and savoring;
                smelling the scent of compassionate love, grace, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness and gentleness.
                      knowing through the Holy Spirit dwelling within and quickening our spirits.

Let us continue to affirm the Light we notice to in one another...Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

John 1:1-9 (AMPC)
In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [b]Himself.

2 He was present originally with God.

3 All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.

4 In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.

5 And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].

6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 This man came to witness, that he might testify of the Light, that all men might believe in it [adhere to it, trust it, and rely upon it] through him.

8 He was not the Light himself, but came that he might bear witness regarding the Light.

9 There it was—the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines every person.

For Prayer and Reflection:

What spoke to you as you listened to the text?

What feelings emerged in response? Bring them into conversation with Jesus.

How is the Light illuminating for you today?

 

 

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.

The Keeper of the Vow

Many of us, along life's journey of learning to trust, surrender and follow God make our own vows to God. Over time we discover, if we are truly honest, that we cannot fully keep our vows. The good and amazing news is that God, the Maker of the New Covenant is the one who is fully able and willing to keep the vows made to us. Our God will remain faithful to us.

He keeps every promise forever...Psalm 146:

Psalm 56:3-4, 8-13NIV

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4     In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

8 Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll—
    are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.

 10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Is there a word or phrase which stands out to you as you listen to the text?

Reflect on the fears which may reside in your heart. Bring them into conversation with Jesus. What does he say to you?

How have you experienced God to be trustworthy? Where might you desire to trust God more fully?

Journal or make a record of the vows - the promises God has made to you.

God Leadeth Me

Sometimes surprising, often times just-in-time, always faithful, God is leading us. Pause today, to consider and pray how God is guiding you.

What are you noticing in and around you?

Where do you notice love, or peace, or life-giving joy?
Where do love, peace or life-giving joy seem noticeably absent?

Both reflections, when done prayerfully with the help of the Holy Spirit and over a period of time, can provide clues to how God is guiding. Holy conversations with a soul friend or spiritual director, can help you listen, discern and recognize God's voice. As we grow in intimately knowing the Good Shepherd, we grow in trusting the Shepherd's voice.

"...the sheep hear his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out...My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. "  - Jesus, John 10

Psalm 43:3-5 (NIV)
Send me your light and your faithful care,
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you dwell.

Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

For Prayer and Reflection:

What word(s), phrase or pictures in the passage come to you in this reading? Bring them into your prayer with Jesus.

Where are you noticing God's light shining in your circumstances now? How is this light leading you?

How is God showing you faithful care? What care do you need right now? Have a conversation with God about your needs for care and your gratitude for care received.

If discouragement, sadness or despair are where you are now, how might God dwell with you in them?