I haven’t been sick since 2009. That’s a long run and I hate that it’s broken. I’ve been doubling up on my water kefir intake as well as vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc. I’ve been drinking a lemon, ginger, and honey tea for days. I’ve been sleeping way more than normal and when not sleeping watching LOST on Netflix.
I know I’m not as sick as most have been. This is a case of the sniffles with a headache. But it’s more than I’ve had in a long, long time. (and I’m getting better!)
And while on the topic of today’s Advent devotion (nurturing the body) I need to say how grateful I am for visits with friends who nurture me.
One came to me and brought me gorgeous flowers as well as beautiful company. We spent the day painting and talking and sharing.
I drove to the other’s home, where my soul is nourished like nowhere else and my body is nurtured because we eat the same way. And then she came to visit, too, and man…my heart is full! I wish I lived much closer to these two.
Just a few more days until Christmas and I haven’t shopped, baked, or anything at all. It doesn’t feel like Christmastime. This is the first year I’ve ever been like this. I don’t get it.
Maybe it’s the move? I don’t know.
Speaking of the move. We’ve received a little news (not much and not enough.) There are no positions in our region available, so now Phil must internally apply for open positions across the country. We won’t know anything at all until after January 7th. So now we apply and wait (again.)
The sun is shining today. Phil’s done with training and we’re ready to know where we’re going. I’m having issues with the waiting and trusting. I know God already knows where we’re going, but it’s hard, y’know? Really hard.
These girls waited for Phil to come home every night for the past 3 weeks. It’s been hard with him out of town, but he’s home now. I feel like we’ve made it to the other side of something…
I don’t know what yet.
Saturday, the third week of Advent
“Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.” Hebrews 10:5 (NRSV)
I seldom take the time to consider all the planning the Incarnation took, all the promises made and waited for by the faithful before Christ finally put on the body prepared for him. What amazing humility it took for the Creator who formed humans in their mother’s wombs, to submit himself to being formed. The embodied God was a living sacrifice. What’s more, he calls us who are made in his image and likeness “to be living sacrifices, dedicated and acceptable to God. That is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people,” we are told in Romans 12:1. As we move into the final days before the Nativity of Christ, let us consider the role our bodies plays in the greatest story every told. And let us try with all our might, to yield these bodies, to the will of God.
Today, nurture the body you incarnate, any way you choose.
Word made flesh,
It’s hard to believe that I am a temple, your tabernacle and dwelling place. Even more incredible is the truth that I am made in your image and likeness. I haven’t respected my body as I should, nor honored it as I would any church building that I’d walk into. As I prepare for your coming, help me to see my body as what it is: a living sacrifice. And Jesus, help me to obey your word, and not model my behavior by the world’s standards, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind, so that I can discern what your will is: what is good, acceptable, and mature. I need you, body and soul.
I’m listening to “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillian right now.
He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
The weight of his wind and mercy
When it’s dark I forget how He loves
I wish I didn’t. I wish I could carry His love with me always.
I don’t know why I forget it, why I doubt it, why I need to be reminded.
and maybe that’s what this Advent journey is about for me.
A reminder that no matter how dark it is, His light not only pierces the darkness, it drowns it out.
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9
Friday, the second week of Advent
“Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” John 3:1-2 NRSV
Why do you think Nicodemus came to Jesus at night? He already believed in him. Maybe the quiet nights, free from unruly crowds were the best time for Nicodemus to ask his most penetrating questions. Or maybe, he didn’t want the spiritual leaders he served with to know of his interest in Jesus. Jesus must have startled Nicodemus when he used the cloak of darkness surrounding them as a metaphor. He said, “For all who love evil hate the light, and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.” Be it fear, depression, ignorance, or the darkness of sin in our lives, many, many people come to Jesus in their night.
Using whatever supplies you are moved to, explore both darkness and light.
Light of the world,
I’m not wise or self-aware enough to truly know my motivations. Your Word says, “the heart is devious above all else; it’s perverse–who can understand it.” I’m asking for you to illuminate me. Nicodemus, in coming to you, came to the light. Help me, beloved Jesus, to come out of any form of darkness that may be surrounding me. You are good to make yourself available to me in the night, but I want to know you in the warmth of your blazing sun.
“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus had also been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22
Have you ever wondered why the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove? Perhaps there’s a connection to the dove that flew out into the world after the great flood, which was a metaphor for a new beginning for humankind. In this passage Christ is embarking on His own new beginning that will benefit the whole world. His baptism, a simple act of obedience, commences his pubic ministry, and from here, Jesus begins to change the lives of everyone he comes in contact with. He is still transforming lives today.
Today, using whatever supplies you are drawn to, craft a representation of the Spirit as a dove. Caption this practice with what you feel the Father is saying about, or to you.
Father of the Beloved,
I can only imagine what it was like to be at Jesus’ baptism. With my minds eye I can see the dove glide from the heavens to perch serenely on his shoulder. But many times, I struggle with sensing the movements, and resting places of the Holy Spirit. You don’t usually speak in audible voices either, Father. Please give me discernment, so that I may know when I should be still with you, and when I should soar with you; when you speak, and how to recognize your voice and say, “Yes, that is Abba talking.” Help me in the name of your Beloved.
“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ He said, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know I must be in my father’s house?’” Luke 2:46-48 NRSV
Last week we pondered the annunciation, birth, and infancy of Jesus. This week we’ll journey with him as he grows into an adult, and meditate on the confounding grace that “God with us” brings into our daily lives. We begin, once again, at the temple in Jerusalem. Twelve year-old-Jesus has gone missing. It would be one thing if he were gone three hours, but three days had passed. Who can blame his frantic parents for their reaction? It’s his answer to his mother that challenges us: why were you searching for me?
We look for Jesus through slick television preachers, retreats, seminars, and through the multiple millions of dollars worth of Christian living books sold. We scour the Internet for signs of him, but too many times we come up empty. Advent and Christmas season are evidence of the arrival of Christ, yet caught up in holiday madness, so often we fail to find him. What can we do to trust that the Lord as available as he said he would be?
Today, using whatever supplies you are drawn to, interpret “assurance” that Jesus is with you. Your artwork does not have to look realistic. Remember you are expressing yourself–your deepest self. A wild swirl of colors may come out. Play as you pray through this.
My Father God,
Have I frantically looked for Jesus everywhere except for the main place he said I could find him? Jesus said his kingdom was within, and that he’d be in the midst when two or more of us gather in his name. He’s present in the Word, and can even be found when I look into the faces of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Still, like Jesus’ parents, I find myself steeped in anxiety, wondering if I am truly connected to Him. Enlighten my eyes to see Christ wherever he may be found, good Father, and may I come to know him in those places, in fresh, life-changing ways.
Life has been…difficult. Not the worst it’s ever been, but yet, still demanding in its own right. It wouldn’t do any good to list it all out. When I do that, it seems to get worse and I don’t know if I have the wherewithal to endure more mental anguish right now. I’m trying to sort through all of my baggage and at the same time I’m trying to focus on this Advent season, this expectant and joyous time of waiting.
Honestly, I’m anything but joyous.
I feel defeated, discouraged, depressed (are all “d” words like this?) I’m feeling rather hopeless. Full of unbelief and fear. Beaten down and kicked again. And just when I think I’ve handed it all over, another bomb is dropped on me. And I keep handing it over.
I’m not joyous.
That fullness of heart feels out of reach right now.