Missing the Gift of the Small

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It is difficult to remain content with the small.
The small grace of a quiet hour.
The small measure of spiritual understanding.
The small moment of victory over a sin.
We are conditioned to stretch for the large.
We believe that it is of a higher godliness to grasp for the more astonishing miracle, the more arduous purity, the more splendid spiritual insight
rather than to be thankful for what God has chosen to give.
We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious…Only he who gives thanks for the little things receives the big things. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together
We miss so many of God’s beautiful and perfect gifts when we are focused on the tremendous and the tomorrow instead of looking up and becoming aware of the right now.
When God chooses to grant us a small shard of wisdom, a small snatch of victory, a small sliver of intimacy with Him,
it is enough.
We look for visions of heaven, and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. ~ Oswald Chambers
Yes, sometimes God chooses to give us the grand and the monumental, but much of the time He chooses to grace us with the small.
If we do not remain awake to the right now, we will miss most of His daily gifts.
We will miss some of the best that God has to offer.
After all, God often delights in using the smallest to bring about the greatest blessing.
The small boy with the sling and the stones.
The small loaves and fishes.
The small baby in the stable.
Remain awake to the right now and grateful for the small.
When we view the little things with thanksgiving…even they become big things. ~ Father Tim in Jan Karon’s book, These High, Green Hills

Art credits: cathedral photograph by Kirk Sewell; all other photographs copyright 2018 Made Sacred


To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.


You are beloved.
Do you know that?
Truly know it, deep down in the core of you?
Before you were born,
before your parents were born,
before any of your ancestors were born,
before the creation of the world,
you were beloved.
Before you were loved by your parents,
before any of your achievements were praised by teachers,
before your friends knew you and loved you,
you were beloved.
You were carefully crafted.
Your physical body,
your personality,
your talents and passions,
all were formed with the greatest and tenderest of care.
The world will try to tell you otherwise.
The world will lie and manipulate you, trying to make you believe that you are
how you look,
what you do,
the way you behave.
Don’t believe it.
You are beloved.
Before you did or were or acted,
you were beloved.
Find and remain with those who tell you the truth.
Hold on to those who remind you that
you are beloved.
And be grateful.
Thank God for choosing you.
Thank God for loving you.
Thank Him by believing that,
by trusting that,
by holding tightly with white knuckles to the idea that
you are beloved.

Art credit: Fairy Tales by Jessie Willcox Smith

Your Kingdom Come

I’ve been working my way through a new book by N. T. Wright called The Day the Revolution Began, and I have a lot to tell you. This is the final post containing some of what I have learned. You can read the first post here, the second post here, and the third post here. I hope you gain as much as I have.


To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.


If what we need is a new Exodus, as I wrote last week, if we need a forgiveness of Sin (the worship of anything other than the Creator God) to return us from exile, to return us to our true purpose of being a royal priesthood, and if God accomplished this through the cross, how did He do this?
What happened on that Friday afternoon?
The Cross
The power of Sin was centered within the person of Jesus.
Throughout history, God had been focusing the powers of Sin and darkness, drawing all of Sin’s power towards one place, one person.
He did this in Israel through the law. This is partly what Paul means when he writes to the Galatians of the law being added because of transgressions, of the law bringing the curse to the people.
Then Jesus came. Israel’s Messiah. The true Adam. The true Israel.
God in the person of Israel’s Messiah came at a specific moment to a specific place, drawing all the powers of Sin and darkness to Himself.
drawing the power of Sin
The power of the political authorities, the power of the religious authorities, all power was focused on one man on a cross. The King of the Jews.
And all earthly powers were killed.
But the man? The King?
For Him, Sunday was a new day.
Sunday is a new day
Yet when we look at what Jesus Himself said about His purpose, we see a lot of talk about the coming of the Kingdom of God.
The coming of the Kingdom of God. What would that have meant to first century Israel?
According to N.T. Wright, it would have meant three main things:
~ The restoration of true worship, God’s Presence coming to dwell with His people, enabling them to worship Him fully.
~ The worldwide rule of Israel’s God (perhaps, from Old Testament prophecies, through the agency of the Messiah), bringing a new reign of justice and peace.
~ The hope of Israel to be rescued from pagan rule, set free from the dominion of pagan overlords.
restoration of worship
The Kingdom of God, the place where God rules, coming to earth. God’s space coming into our space.
This is, after all, what Jesus taught us to pray: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
God's kingdom come
What happens after the crucifixion, after the resurrection? We see the coming together of heaven and earth in the person of Jesus.
Jesus, the risen man, is taken up into heaven, “thereby joining together in his own person the two spheres of God’s good creation.” Earth in the human body of Jesus is now fully and completely at home in heaven.
We also see the coming together of heaven and earth in the opposite direction within every follower of Jesus in Acts 2 when the Spirit comes upon the disciples.
“This is one of the New Testament equivalents of the filling of the tabernacle with the cloud and fire or of Solomon’s Temple with the glorious divine Presence…Jesus himself and his Spirit-filled people constitute the new Temple, the start of the new world.”
This is exactly what we see in the book of Acts, the story of the beginning of the new creation, the coming of God’s kingdom fulfilling just what Israel could have expected:
new creation
~ We see a new people living in a new pattern of life and worship, the restoration of true worship in the presence of God.
~ We see the forgiveness of sins as a real event and the whole world being called to order in the name of Jesus, the worldwide rule of God. For example, in Acts 12, Herod attacks the church and arrests Peter, but Peter is miraculously released by angels, At the end of the chapter, Herod dies “but God’s word grew and multiplied”.
~ We see Israel and, through Israel-in-person, the nations set free from death and therefore set free from the ultimate weapon of every tyrant, the hope of Israel to be rescued from pagan rule. When Christ was raised from the dead, all of His people were “set free from the ultimate exile imposed by every Babylon.”
We see the Kingdom of God beginning a kingdom rule here on earth, just as it is in heaven.
This is what happened on the cross.
killing off death
Heaven and earth becoming one. God’s people reclaiming their vocation as a royal priesthood, reflecting the worship of creation to the Creator and reflecting the wise rule of the Creator into the world. God’s creation being restored through the work of His redeemed people.
God’s covenant faithfulness is proved true.
God's rescue
He has returned and has rescued His people.
The new Exodus is here.
All glory and honor and power and praise be to our God who did not give up or prove unfaithful even when we did.

Art credits: The Three Crosses by Rembrandt; Jesus Scourged by Marillier; The Pillar of Fire by Paul Hardy; all other photographs copyright 2018 by Made Sacred

All quotes are from The Day the Revolution Began by N. T. Wright

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