I haven’t been blogging for… too long. Life has brought transitions and turmoil since my last long-ago post on here. (There has also been much good… I often have to remind myself that transition is not a bad thing!) The last few months have led me to the goal of having more trust, and showing more transparency… and for me, that is easier through writing than talking. SO… I’m trying to find the good — and bring it back here. Whether it is an inspiring quote, a blog post plucked from Google Reader or a tidbit about my day, my plan is to update this blog with positive things to think on. I hope you will join me on the journey!
Last night my little boy shocked my husband by announcing that Easter was more fun than Christmas. 🙂 (Christmas is a big deal at our house, and we love all of the traditions around it). When asked why, he listed all of the “fun activities” about Easter. The last few years we have spent Sunday morning attending a sunrise service near our house and watching that church’s teens put on a short play about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Andrew loves it (and admittedly doesn’t have much experience with Nativity plays at Christmas). For him, Easter means jellybeans (and one year an activity that incorporated jelly beans into Lent… which we didn’t do this year), egg hunts on beautiful spring days, and worship.
His comment got me thinking… I didn’t really grow up celebrating the religious aspects of Christmas OR Easter. I’ve grown to love that side of both of them. Easter is my favorite as well. The message of Christmas is hope and God entering the world… and that is amazing. But the message of Easter is that what began on Christmas has been completed. Sin has been defeated, creation is being renewed, God’s redeeming work is finished (and yet somehow still working today). Easter is a time of praise and rejoicing and happiness.
Easter is even more special because it is preceded by days of waiting… by the celebration of Good Friday… by commemorating the silence that was Saturday. Last night we attended a Good Friday service. We reflected on what the cross meant. We reflected on Jesus’ name and his work. He honored his taking on of sins even yet to come. We knelt down (admittedly, that was figuratively and not literally) in honor of his sacrifice… and can’t wait to stand up in praise as we celebrate his resurrection on Sunday.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly — John 10:10, NASB
Today is Maundy Thursday. At first glance, it seems a bit ironic to reflect on abundant life on this day commemorating one of the last days of Christ’s life. And yet… wasn’t his life a life lived to the full? His life was focused completely on his priorities — God’s priorities. Jesus’s life here on this earth was not abundant because it was easy. It was not abundant because he was materially rich. It was not abundant because he was liked by everyone he met. No… his life was often difficult, he had little to call his own, and he was often misunderstood even by those who were closest to him.
Living life to the full has nothing to do with having plenty of money. It has nothing to do with having lots of friends. An abundant life comes with recognizing each day for what it adds to life. Even the really tough ones… the ones where we are at a crossroads of what to do with a relationship, the ones where we feel abandoned by everyone, the ones where we wonder if God still cares. An abundant life is a life focused on goals that sometimes take pain to get to. An abundant life is a life focused on connecting with other people to enrich their lives instead of ours. An abundant life is one spent doing as Jesus did — getting to know people, really know people; reaching out in love; crying with them through the tough times, and reaching out for support on those dark nights when we need companions. An abundant life is one where we may be scared of the dark times or the valleys of life… and yet we realize that God has a purpose in them. An abundant life is a life lived in community, preferably with other people but always with God. With God… not in fear of God… not worrying if we stuck a toe over the wrong line… but a life knowing how loved we are. How amazing is that?
Maybe this day where we remember Jesus through communion is appropriate after all to reflect on his example of a life lived abundantly — a life where he was not only a teacher who spoke truth but also a human who lived through dark and bright times, and a life where he was, most importantly, aware of his status of the Beloved as God’s beloved Son.
Peace and abundance be yours today…
So apparently right now I am doing well to get through readings… much less blog about them. I think I am the sort of person who has to take much smaller doses of reading (Bible reading, that is, or anything else that requires thought!). Then I have time to think about them and reflect… and while I think that reading larger portions of Scripture has its place (especially to get the context, figure out the storyline, etc.), I am at the point right now where I’m familiar with the general and need to concentrate on the particulars and application of what I am reading. Thus… no blogs. I may still have some up about this Holy Week… and next time I’ll make sure that I am up for a challenge before inviting others to join me! Or maybe part of journeying together is helping each other along…
Motherhood has radically changed my view of the gospel. I both welcome and am overwhelmed by the responsibility of taking my beliefs and sharing them on a 4-year-old level. I also find that some passages which I never thought much of before leave me wondering how and why when viewed through a mother’s eyes.
I have a New Year’s baby, and one of my favorite pregnancy moments was attending a midnight Christmas Eve service during which Andrew woke up and danced 🙂 the whole time. (I should have known then he was a music lover too!) Anyway, I spent that Christmas season before he was born thinking of Mary and her journey to (and then through) motherhood. The more beloved “Christmas story” comes from Luke, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say on it when we get there… but today I am wondering about those 2 years or so between the end of Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter 2. Chapter 2 opens with Joseph, Mary and toddler Jesus living in a home… and it is there they are visited by the wise men (sorry, nativity set manufacturers). I wonder of those years between Jesus’s birth and the relative stability of having a house & home in Chapter 2. Joseph was from Bethlehem… did he still have family there or were Joseph and Mary left alone to cope with the first few years of parenthood? What were those years of transition like? Were they accepted or ostracized by the town (because somehow I am sure gossip spread even in 1st century times!)? Did they expect these wise men to arrive… and what did they make of their gifts? What was it like being visited by angels so often after centuries of silence? If Mary were a friend of mine, would I have believed her story? (I’d like to think so…) And, although I know that Matthew’s Jewish readers wanted to hear of fulfilled prophecy… why oh why is Herod’s murder of babies necessary?
18″A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
I marvel when I see women who have come through to the other side of child loss. Not that they have “gotten over it”, but that they have accepted it as part of their life and part of how God is working and has worked in their life. I know that it is surmountable… I know that humans can get through unthinkable tragedy with intact (and stronger) faith… but I struggle with passages like this one. Moses’s birth… Jesus’s birth… both accompanied by such tragedy. It just hit me that two of God’s greatest works have that parallel.. and yet I wonder about all of those parents in both instances who lost all of those children… (no answers here… just questions!)
Matthew 3 opens with a reminder for me that confrontation can be a good thing! I wonder how taken aback Matthew’s Jewish audience was with his depiction of John the Baptist and even more so with John’s assertion that the “children of Abraham”… God’s chosen people… were perhaps not quite as irreplaceable as they believed. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the Israelites (and Jews of today) are very close to God’s heart… it just strikes me here that John points out to them that their salvation and forgiveness is not found in being children of Abraham but in doing God’s will… and foreshadows early Christians’ outreach to the Gentiles later on.
Just some musings for the day… 🙂
to join me in studying about Jesus’s life during Lent this year. You can access a reading plan of a few chapters a day at Bible Gateway and tune in every few days to see what I’m thinking about the reading… and let me know your thoughts as well. (I know myself too well to commit to daily reading *and* daily blogging!)
While I’m issuing an invitation, I invite you to do something to commemorate Lent this year. I did not grow up knowing a thing about Lent or acknowledging it in any way… so some of you out there may have more insight than I… but I have been intrigued by the idea since I learned of it. Although Lent is traditionally about sacrificing something you enjoy in acknowledgement of Jesus’s sacrifice for us, I have been reminded this year that the real key is replacing that which you gave up with something better. I love the idea of focusing on adding in the positive instead of eliminating the negative… and the fact that what ultimately happens is that the negative is eliminated anyway. I’ve come across people this year who are planning on sacrificing time they would spend doing other things to bless those around them through writing letters, or spending one on one time with family members, or improving their home environment. For that matter, even this relatively simple promise I’ve made to spend a little more time in Jesus’s presence learning of his life is a step towards the positive. I know that time that was formerly wasted will be spent in a good way.
Join me! And, if any of you parents of littler ones happen to have The Beginner’s Bible , I discovered tonight that there are 39 stories about Jesus’s life… so your little ones can join mine in learning about Jesus’s life too! I’m sure they will have some interesting thoughts along the way as well. 🙂
Looking forward to journeying with some of you…