Thankful

Thanksgiving

As we all celebrate our harvest, whether that harvest be from fields of grain
or of family
or of work
or even of your own spirit,
I want you to know that I am grateful for you.
Peace and joy be yours.

Art credit: Orchard in Flanders by Emile Claus

The Defeat Itself Becomes Victory

There is much suffering in our world.
suffering
Much pain, grief, loneliness, disease, fear, death.
abnormal reality
These are normal on our planet. No one escapes.
This suffering reveals the defeat of man, the defeat of life itself, and no number of advances in technology or medicine can overcome it.
Yet their very normalcy is abnormal. It is not how our world was created.
perfect creation
Disease and death is not the way we were intended to live, yet our sin has broken our world and our very selves, and here we are.
It is into this abnormal reality that Christ comes. He comes not to remove our suffering but to transform it into victory.
transformation
God through Jesus transforms even our ultimate defeat, death, into victory, into an entrance into his kingdom and into the only true healing.
The Church comes, then, not simply to help us in our pain but to make us a witness to Christ in our sufferings. She comes to make us martyrs.
A martyr, in the words of Alexander Schmemann, is “one for whom God is not another — and the last — chance to stop the awful pain; God is his very life, and thus everything in his life comes to God.”
If we only come to God to stop the suffering, if we only turn to him for comfort in our pain, we miss the chance to become who we were created to be. We miss the chance to become more truly human.
We miss the chance to be made more closely into the image of God.
Rather than merely receiving comfort, we could become a witness to others of Christ himself. We could become one who beholds “the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” We could become the victory for those around us.
pain into glory
We could gain the glory of Christ.
Through (the witness’) suffering, not only has all suffering acquired a meaning, but it has been given the power to become itself the sign, the sacrament, the proclamation, the ‘coming’ of that victory; the defeat of man, his very dying, has become a way of Life. ~ Schmemann
This is the way of God. Flipping the things of this world on their head. Pain becomes proclamation. Suffering becomes sacrament. Defeat becomes victory. Death becomes life.
Don’t settle for a dry crust when you could feast with the King.
Surrender to God, to whatever he wants to do through your suffering, and allow his Holy Spirit to transform that suffering into a sacrament of life.
defeat becomes victory
It takes submission, and this is hard. So very hard. Yet God has promised. Your surrender to him allows him to turn your defeat into victory, and that victory leads you into the only true healing.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
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.

Art credits: Resurrection by Luca Giordano; all other photographs are copyright Made Sacred 2020

Too Slow, Too Common

Slow.
Discipline.
Cultivation.
Practice.
slow
These are not popular ideas these days.
We prefer glitz and glamour, look for fast-paced action, demand instant results.
glitz
We are impatient of slow, meandering ways of reaching goals.
This is what we have been taught as we live in this technological age: this dismissal of slow as substandard, this elevation of streamlined over satisfying.
We want to rush through everything in order to cram in more. We strive to find the most efficient ways of reaching our goals so we can stretch ourselves toward newer, better achievements.
We want to do more, have more, be more.
There is much that is lost when we fall into this way of reaching career, parenting, or personal goals.
discipline
Everything is lost when applying these technological methods to our relationship with God.
We read our chapter of Scripture, have our devotion, talk at God for a moment or two, then rush off to the rest of our day, wondering all the while why we feel such deep emptiness inside.
We try to fill that emptiness with more worship music, more religious podcasts, more sermons, yet none of this will make up for what we have lost.
What can bring us back?
cultivation
That which we have rejected:
slow and steady,
being disciplined over a period of decades,
a long cultivation of spiritual habits,
practice and more practice and yet more practice.
The idea of cultivation and exercise, so dear to the saints of old, has now no place in our total religious picture. It is too slow, too common. ~ A. W. Tozer
Spiritual practices such as silence and solitude, lectio divina, contemplation, self-examination and confession – these are the slow habits that bring us into a deep, abiding relationship with God.
We are called to abide with Christ, and abiding is necessarily a long and slow process, one that takes place by degrees over many decades.
practice
If you are wondering where God is, perhaps you need to slow down, make time.
He is here. He is always here. We do not often perceive him, but he is always here.
Perceiving takes time. It is a sacrifice of time to be sure. I won’t pretend that it is easy to move against the flow of our age.
Yet for me, at least, I want this awareness more than I want the illusive rewards of hurry and instant.
I am trying. I fail often. The process is so much slower than I would prefer.
slow
Slow as it may be, I begin to notice progress. I begin to notice God.
It is for increasing degrees of awareness that we pray, for a more perfect consciousness of the divine Presence…He is nearer than our own soul. ~ A. W. Tozer
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.

Still Desperate for a Little Character

God's leadership
man's leadership
Whether or not you agree with their policies, whether or not you approve of what they are accomplishing for their constituents, most of us would find the character of our leaders to be severely lacking. We are quick to find excuses: That’s simply what politics takes these days. This particular issue is more important than what they do in their private lives. Our politicians mock the downtrodden, are proven liars, and blatantly do whatever it takes to scrabble for a bit more power. Yet we continue to re-elect and even laud them.
Why? Does it even matter? Is a person’s character at all important in this modern age or is it a relic of outdated morals? Character is more than merely important; it is vital to our society. It is important to people as individuals and it is important to society in its entirety.
When we can cheat and lie “just a little bit” and still think highly of ourselves, when we show our children that it is necessary to sometimes do insignificantly wrong things to get by, when it is more wrong to judge evil than to do evil, then we are in trouble. For our society to function well, we need people of character in leadership positions, from teachers and managers to mayors and governors.
What has happened in our world? Why do ordinary people care so little about acting in moral ways? Much of this dearth of character, this scarcity of virtue, comes from the rejection of the idea that truth is unchanging, that truth can be the same regardless of place or time. If truth is, at best, all relative and only a matter of perspective and, at worst, a social construct and simply whatever we make it to be, then why should anyone work to develop a character that may or may not be valid to anyone else? If there is no truth that we can deliberate over and discover together as a society (whatever that truth may be and wherever it may come from), we are left with, as Christian Cleric Richard John Neuhaus says, “power and propaganda and grievance and anger and caucuses and anti-caucuses and special interest groups and victims and vengeance.”
This concept of truth comes from our distinctly American philosophy of pragmatism (founded by William James, 1842-1910, who said that the true was only the expedient. Truth, in other words, is what works.). When society contains multiple competing ways of viewing the world, and when all of those ways are equally valid, then the only way to determine which viewpoint is most true is to determine which is most useful. If truth is simply what is most useful, then truth will change over time.
There is an assumption in much of society, in many of our universities especially, that we cannot keep society and relationships moving forward if we speak of one truth for all people because truth brings only conflict. Truth has become the loud uncle we are vaguely ashamed of, assuming that anything so divisive has no appropriate role in public life. When the biggest wrong that can be done in a society is to cause an argument, we are left with a society that vacantly agrees with every new opinion. When the biggest good a government can do is to smooth everything to the same level of truth, we are left with a government that changes policy for each group that shouts louder. When truth is sensible rather than stubborn, as trustworthy as a weatherman, we are left with a prediction for Snowpocalypse that leaves Walmart shelves empty but a reality of 60 degrees and sunny. Society is left to flounder on a foundation of shifting sand.
How did this happen? How did truth get hijacked and associated with the negative? How did truth become linked with religious totalitarianism and Osama bin Laden? How did it become shameful to declare a belief in truth, even simply the idea of truth, regardless of what that truth is? Part of the answer, I’m afraid, comes from us, the Church. We have a history of wielding the truth divisively, of tearing down and even destroying rather than creating and building up. We have used truth as an excuse for starting crusades and we have used truth as an excuse to look at our neighbor with contempt. Truth has become a weapon used to elevate ourselves by bludgeoning down all those we deem as “other”.
This becomes all the more baffling when we remember that Jesus, God in the flesh, claimed to be Truth. If we are condemning our neighbor with what we claim to be truth, perhaps it is not truly Truth we are wielding. Using truth as a magic wand to turn our neighbor into a stepping stone is a natural consequence when we who claim to follow Truth succumb to our world’s version of expedient truth. This is what our politicians have done and this is why so many evangelicals support him. Our state and federal leadership tends to be the embodiment of pragmatic truth, and when the Church has forgotten the words and life of Him who claimed to be truth, the Church is easily swayed toward truth that is useful, truth that serves a purpose, truth that turns character into a liability. As much as we might wish it, truth is not in our service, rather we who claim to be Christian are servants of the Truth in the person of Jesus.
If Jesus is, as He claimed to be, the Truth, we are given a truth that is unchanging, yet personal. We are given a truth that produces genuine, enduring character. When we follow Jesus as the Truth, living and speaking as He did, we find that God’s Spirit produces in us a character of love rather than a character of expediency. And when we are possessed of a character of love, we find that we are asked to proclaim this pure, loving truth to our world. More difficult, even, than proclaiming it, we are asked to live it out. Neuhaus tells us that it is now the Church’s task to learn how to assert truth in public “persuasively and winsomely and in a manner that does not violate but strengthens the bonds of civility”. He reminds us that it is our duty to do more than merely tolerate those with whom we disagree but to eagerly engage them, even pursue them, in love.
How? How do we declare and live truth without being divisive and unpleasant, causing strife, conflict, and wars? By remembering grace. Amazing grace. We can live out stubborn truth beautifully by remembering that we ourselves are unable to live up to our own standards and yet we are loved. When we despise or feel superior to anyone, when our goal is to “make America great again” by marginalizing the poor and disadvantaged, we derive more power from our own exalted sense of self-righteousness than from God’s grace. Living by this brand of truth that exalts ourselves is what poisons the truth with divisiveness. This is what politics does: cause divisiveness by playing one group against another, by exalting us by means of demeaning them. Living out Jesus as truth can also be divisive, but a much different sort of divisive.  Living out Jesus as truth produces a steady character of loving and caring for others. It is exalting others by humbling ourselves. This can be threatening, and therefore divisive, to those who have already exalted themselves, but it a way of living truth that is desperately needed in our world.

It is ageless, this genuine sort of character. It is what the early Christians did when they loved the poor, empowered women, and brought together the races and classes. It is how the early Church overran the Roman Empire when it wasn’t even attempting to gain political power. This is the sort of truth we need. The kind of truth that provides a firm and unchanging foundation for our society. One that will not allow people to helplessly flail but gives them the strength to build a society that lasts, one that cares for all of its members. Tim Keller says that this is the sort of truth that is “a God Who became weak, Who loved and died for the people Who opposed Him, forgiving them.”
Much of the leadership in our country has become known as politicians who deceive others and who are themselves deceived. It seems unbelievable, but this seems to be what many in our country are searching for. Someone who does whatever is advantageous today, someone who manipulates and even creates truth to suit themselves and their supporters. If, instead, you are searching for someone who will lead by serving, someone who will follow Truth rather than create it, well, I’m afraid you probably won’t find that in the upper echelons of our country.
What, then, shall we do? Despair and give up on our country? Better yet by far than any vote you may cast, rather, become that sort of leader yourself in the world of your own influence. After all, presidents have never yet been able to save our country or her people. A country full of people who live lives full of Truth and Love, however? That sort of citizenry has been known to change the world.

I Want My True Colors To Be Brilliant

Autumn is my favorite time of year.
Autumn
Colors
The cool, crisp air striking your skin, the blazing bonfire scent filling you up with every breath, the crunch of leaves underfoot.
Most of all, the leaves.
The dazzling display of fiery colors that fill your sight in every direction.
Dazzling
Those radiant colors that inspire poetry and art are, I recently discovered (or perhaps rediscovered as I feel sure I probably learned this at one time during my elementary school career), actually the true colors of the leaves.
The green that we see for most of the year, the green that fills up our springtime and summer, is just the tree-feeding chlorophyll covering up the brightness. It is not until the tree is no longer making food, not until the leaves are beginning to die, that their true colors blaze out.
Green
I want that.
Changing
Oh, how I desperately want that.
Becoming
As I age, as my body moves closer to death, I want for the colors of this life to begin to fade away and the colors of Jesus in me to blaze out.
Beginning
From the moment we choose life in Jesus, we are changing.
Fading
Little by little, day by day, the green of this world starts to fade.
Shining
Little by little, choice by choice, the light of the life to come begins to shine.
Light
The older I become, the more I want people to look at me and see Jesus. I want the colors of me, the colors of my natural self, to fade away.
I want the brilliance of Jesus to take over.
Brilliance
At the end of my life, my body will be bent and wrinkled, dry and withered.
My prayer is that by then my own self will be so one with Christ that when people look into my eyes, they are taken aback with the dazzling display of Jesus that fills their sight.
Dazzling
What are some of the lessons that Mother Nature is teaching you about our common Creator? She speaks loudly if we will only listen.
Beauty
Creation
Nature
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. ~ Romans 1.20
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.

All photographs copyright Made Sacred 2020

The Truer Truth

loss
You who are hurting,
suffering,
waiting,
grieving;
You who have experienced
loss after loss after loss;
Grief
You who have wondered about God,
turned away from God,
wept tears of anguish and rage before God;
You are seen.
You are known.
You are loved.
If I could sit with you, listen to you, hold your face gently in my hands and look into your eyes, this is what I would tell you:
There are two truths I want you to know, to grip tightly with both fists, to let sink down into your deepest, most raw and wounded places.
The first truth? Jesus is with you in your darkest places.
There is no hell you walk through that can keep Jesus from being beside you, before you, behind you, in you.
There are no tears you shed that are not shared by Jesus.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can separate you from Love.
sorrow
The second truth? There is a reality that is deeper and more real than whatever you are going through.
Your hurt, your grief, your pain is very real. It would be foolish to pretend that the brokenness is not true.
And there is something truer. There is a truth that is more real, more lasting than any suffering you may endure.
Revelation is all about showing us the truer things behind the true thing. God draws back the curtain for John so that he can see the truest things.
The true thing for John?
The Church is being persecuted, tortured, killed. Evil appears to be winning the day.
The truer thing?
God shows John the Bride of the Lamb. He says, “Let me show you the beauty, the radiance, the glory of my Church, my Bride, as she reflects the glory and beauty of her Lord. This is what my Church looks like. This is who she really is.”
And this is what is truest for you.
Beneath all the dark and ugly and broken, you are the perfect, radiant Beloved one of God.
You are Beloved.
Regardless of what you see or feel, grip with all your strength to this truest truth ~ you are his Beloved.

suffering

And all of this suffering you are enduring right now? All of this pain and sorrow and loss?
All of it will be redeemed, will be transformed into something beautiful.
It probably won’t happen in the way or in the timing you hope for, and that certainly is a hard truth.
But that hard truth does not take away the truer truth that even if God does not heal anything here on this earth (And he might. Oh, he might!), the moment you look upon the face of Jesus, see his scars suffered for you and see the love streaming out of his eyes, all of this hard will melt away like the morning mist before the rising sun.
truer truth
Because the truest thing of all is that right now Jesus is with you and right now you are his Beloved.
Hold onto that and do not ever let it go.
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.

Art credits: Grief by Daniel Kornbau; Grief by Bertram Mackennal; Rabboni by Gutzon Borglum; sunrise by Kirk Sewell; broken Jonquil by Elizabeth Giger

Offering My Incompetent Fish

I feel incompetent in a lot of ways these days.
So much feels so new.
So different.
So…strange.
masks
Whether you are learning how to work from home, work with protective gear, or find work when your industry has collapsed,
whether you are learning how to help your children learn from home, learn online, or learn with a mask on their sweet faces,
whether you are dealing with hurricanes, fires, or derechos,
I would wager that most of you feel as I do.
Incompetent.
strange times
We want to serve and glorify God here in this little piece of the earth where he has placed us.
We want to love well the people God has placed within our small sphere of influence.
Yet all too often in these oh-so-bizarre days, we feel as though it takes all that we have inside of us just to survive.
We are hanging on by sheer grit, and even that fails us at times.
What are we to do when our hearts desire to do great things for God’s kingdom yet all of our energy is focused on not surrendering completely to the difficulties of life?
I have discovered that it helps to think about fish.
fish offering
Well, to be specific, fish and bread.
Remember the time when Jesus fed five thousand men plus women and children?
loaves and fish
When the hour for supper arrived, Jesus looked around and asked if anyone had any food to share.
Jesus, the bread of life, the one who spoke grain into being, asked for help in feeding his people.
While the grown-up Jesus followers were staring gape-mouthed in disbelief at each other, a little boy came up with his tiny little lunch and offered it to Jesus.
He only had enough for himself, and probably barely enough at that, but he offered what he had to Jesus.
And Jesus took that inadequate offering and multiplied it to feed all of those masses who were hungry
abundance
with abundance left over.
So rest in what Jesus is capable of doing rather than in what you are capable of doing.
Simply offer him what little you have and trust that he can make it more than enough.
You are not asked to do great things, only to offer what you have to the One who has done great things over and above all that you could ask or imagine.
Be still and rest in his more than competent hands.
To hear my blog post read aloud or to hear the music video, 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.

Art credits: Feeding the Five Thousand by Marten van Valckenborch; photos of fish are from a former band student of mine, Jon Miller, who now runs a successful fishing business in Louisiana

Finding the Beauty in Tension and Delay

I once heard a story about a company that allows you to rent a grandma.
waiting
I was intrigued and turned up the volume to learn more. I learned that you can rent a grandma of your own ethnicity who can teach you about your roots. She will teach you your traditions and will teach you how to cook your ethnic foods.
delay
As I smiled to myself and thought about the silliness of the idea of renting a grandma to try to fill a space that can only be truly filled by someone who has known you from birth, who knows your good and your bad and yet loves you anyway, my mind drifted off to what I might wish to pay someone to accomplish for me.
Cleaning my home. Birthdays. Decorating my home. Planning a vacation.
The more I dreamed about not having to do any of those things anymore, however, the more it occurred to me that perhaps hiring someone to plan a birthday party or to do all the planning for a vacation so that I do not have to give any thought to it is not really all that different from paying someone to be a grandma.
Both are about avoiding a process that might be a bit messy and difficult, as well as trying to achieve a result that will be more perfect than what I am able to accomplish on my own.
messiness
Yet if I search my own memories of childhood, or if I ask my own kids what they love and remember most, it is that very same messy process and not-so-perfect ending that bring the most smiles and laughter. Perhaps, if I truly want a beautiful party or an inviting home, the only way to really get that is for my family to journey through the process together.
tension
Later, as I watched my girls with their finger paints, I couldn’t help but wonder if these ideas in my head about process and journey are perhaps true for more than just the activities in my life.
Perhaps they are true for life itself.
When faced with the ugliness that can be found in this life, in this world, I often echo John’s words: E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.
I wonder why there has been so much delay between our salvation and our redemption.
time
I sat at the piano and played through a bit of Bach.
As I played, the music reminded me that time is good. That delay can bring out beauty. That tension makes the release infinitely more beautiful than could be had otherwise.
Music challenges the belief that the longer something takes, the worse it will be…Music, in a very concentrated way, tells us that something can take time AND be good. Music takes time to be what it is, and as such can be glorious. It can remind us that it is not a failing of the created world that it reaches its fulfillment only through time. This is part of the way God made things. The created world takes time to be what it is. ~ Jeremy Begbie in Resounding Truth
I need this reminder.
I want to look for the purpose in this time we have here, especially in these hard days. I want to see the beauty in the way God created our world to need time in order to become as He intends.
I want to enjoy God’s glorious ending (beginning?) when God will make his dwelling among us, when there will be no more tears, when we will forever enjoy the beauty of the new heaven and new earth.

Listen and revel in the way the music takes us through the delay, the messiness, and the tension of time on into a glorious ending.
To hear my blog post read aloud or to hear the music video, 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.

edited from the archives

This I Still Declare To Be True

We recently passed the anniversary of the death of my sister-in-law. Nine years. I wrote this essay when she died, yet in the middle of a pandemic, of political and racial unrest, of an election season, of economic downturns, in the middle of friends and family who are suffering, these words still ring true. It’s been a couple of years since I posted this. May these words bless you deeply.
The Word of Life
God’s Words tell us clearly that there is pain, there is heartbreak in this world.  We should not be surprised.
More often than not, God chooses not to save His people, chooses not to spare them sorrow and hardship.  Hebrews 11 gives a long list of those who were killed or lost ones they loved, Jesus’ closest friends died martyr’s deaths, even His earthly father died without His intervention.
I have pondered long and hard this question of what I believe about God in the midst of it wasn’t supposed to be like this.  Here is my conclusion.
Ocean Waves
I know my God, His character, well enough to trust Him when I don’t understand, when I cannot see in the darkness.  I know, from what He has said about Himself and from what I have seen, that He is always good and always love.  I know that, if we only knew the reasons, we would adore Him for what He does.
God promises that we will have trouble in this world.  He also promises that if we are grateful to Him He will give us peace.  He doesn’t promise that He will take the pain away but that we will be at peace, that we will have joy.
Isn’t that a much bigger promise?
No matter what, God is still God.
Will I only praise and thank Him when He does what I like?  Will I only accept from Him what I deem to be good?
When I deeply think through the idea of declaring my circumstance to be bad, it seems incredibly arrogant.
How can I think that I know better than God what is good?  How am I more capable of naming something to be good than the One who is good?
Will I trust that God has a beautiful, amazing plan only when I can see the beauty of it?  Either God is God, and capable of having plans and reasons that I cannot comprehend, or He isn’t God, and I am silly for blaming a myth. There is not really any in-between place for the things with which I do not agree.
…if I go to Jesus, he’s not under my control either.  He lets things happen that I don’t understand. He doesn’t do things according to my plan, or in a way that makes sense to me.  But if Jesus is God, then he’s got to be great enough to have some reasons to let you go through things you can’t understand.  His power is unbounded, but so are his wisdom and love…He can love somebody and still let bad things happen to them, because he is God–because he knows better than they do.  If you have a God great enough and powerful enough to be mad at because he doesn’t stop your suffering, you also have a God who’s great enough and powerful enough to have reasons that you can’t understand.
King’s Cross by Timothy Keller
 God is God, and since he is God, he is worthy of my worship and my service.  I will find rest nowhere else but in his will, and that will is necessarily infinitely, immeasurable, unspeakable beyond my largest notions of what he is up to. ~ Elisabeth Elliot
Aslan
can trust God, trust in His nature.
Of course he’s not safe.  Who said anything about being safe?  But he’s good.  He’s the king. ~ Mr. Beaver as told to C.S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
 Fiery Furnace
When faced with the fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told King Nebuchadnezzar that
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ~ Daniel 3
When Job lost all of his children and all that he owned and was himself in great physical pain, he declared
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him. ~ Job 13.15
No matter what, I will praise God and offer Him my gratitude, my sacrifice of praise.
God tells us over and over in His word that He has a beautiful purpose for humanity and creation as a whole.
And that he has a beautiful purpose for each of our lives.
Sometimes I doubt this promise, this truth.
And then I look at Jesus, at His cross.
Bearing the Cross
I’ve been clinging to Romans 8.32 through all of this:
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
If God ever had to prove Himself, prove His love for us, prove that He is taking care of us, He has more than proved it all through the cross.
I can trust God, trust in His love.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about Hezekiah.
In II Kings 20, he pleaded with God to “change his story”, to give him more life when God had told him (through Isaiah) that he was going to die.  God did change His mind that time, gave him fifteen more years of life.
And in that fifteen extra years, Hezekiah’s son Manasseh was born.  This son who wouldn’t have been born if Hezekiah hadn’t asked God to change the ending of his story ended up as king and “lead (Israel) astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites”. ~ II Kings 21.9
Our desired story ending versus God’s desired story ending.
Perhaps, just perhaps, God really does know best.  Perhaps He does know which story will bring about a beautiful, redeemed, transfigured people.
Light Shines Through
When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of woe shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
~ How Firm a Foundation, att. John Keith, 1787 (modernized)
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.

credit for images: Lion photo, painting by Simeon SolomonCross photo

Hungry for the Wrong Thing

This world, this created world, is gift. It is given.
gift
It is given to make God known to man, to make man’s life a communion with God.
We depend on the world to live. We take the world into our bodies and transform it into life.
“It is divine love made food, made life for man. God blesses everything he creates, and, in biblical language, this means that he makes all creation the sign and means of his presence and wisdom, love and revelation: ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good.'” ~ Alexander Schmemann
We were intended to take the world into ourselves and transform it into life, offering that life back to God in praise and gratitude. We were intended to be priests, offering the gift of the world back to God as a eucharist, a communion.
hungry for God
Then man fell and communion was broken. Man ceased to be hungry for God and began to be hungry for creation itself. Man stopped being the priest of the world and became, instead, its slave.
This, then, is the original sin. Not that man disobeyed God but that we no longer hunger for him alone.
Christ hungers
Then Christ came and took this world into his perfect body, transforming it into perfect life, and offered that life back to God as a eucharistic offering.
Christ restored our communion with God, our priesthood of the world.
“…in Christ, life – life in all its totality – was returned to man, given again as sacrament and communion, made Eucharist.” ~ Alexander Schmemann
Christ is our bread
Now we, the Church, come together and take the bread and the wine. We offer to God the food we must eat in order to live as a way of offering our whole selves, our life, our world.
We enter into the kingdom of God as we partake of the Eucharist. We enter, however briefly, into the world to come, our world perfected. Our very world is right now perfected in Christ, even as we are still waiting.
The bread and wine, therefore, that is given to be transformed into life, that is given to be offered back to God, that is given to bring us into communion with him,
this very food of the new heavens and the new earth is Christ himself.
Christ is our life
“He is our bread – because from the very beginning all our hunger was a hunger for him and all our bread was but a symbol of him, a symbol that had to become reality.” ~ Alexander Schmemann
Christ came and lived a perfect life, taking the world into himself as food and transforming it into his life, his life as perfect communion with God.
Now he shares his glorified and perfected life with us, saying, “Take, eat.”
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The ideas contained within this post come primarily from For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann

Art credits: Prayer by László Mednyánszky; Communion by John Snyder; Last Supper by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret