Thanksgiving (Day 6): By Grace, Not Left Alone

Today, I’m thankful for my husband, my fellow Pilgrim, and ask he does  for me, for us, and our church:
Down the road of life—this pilgrim way—we walk

Sometimes it flies by on dark wings filled with speeding change.

Other times it crawls on said knees with no visible motion.

Through these trials, light gleams,

a single bulb, a blazing sun, a candle flame:

GRACE

And yet, what grace! It would have been enough to give us this faith-based light, but more is kindly given:

Faithful companions!

See? Kindness, compassion, gifts:

faithful fellow pilgrims—our church body, our families, our spouses.

Oh our spouses, who in all the darkness of intimate sins, plod along at our sides

laughter, long and late nights, routine,

What a gentle sweet communion between two limping pilgrims helping each other

supporting, carrying, cheering,

praying, weeping towards the Celestial City.

What grace the kind Lord gives us in

Friends

Family

Spouses

and the Church.

These our fellow pilgrims, fellow warriors, fellow saints, the children of the Standing Lamb.

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Sunday Thoughts: The Dangerous

“Jesus retrieves those who are dangerous.” – Jarrett Downs (Luke 4:31-37)

We are insignificant monsters hidden in closets.

We are diseased.

We are murderers of innocence.

We are dangerous thieves.

Who will save us, the wretches wondering in the shadows?

Who will save the unsavable?

Who would want to?

The great SoulDefender arises.

He turns from the whole, the healed, the clean, the good.

He brings the light into darkness.

He touches the sick.

He befriends the villain.

He retrieves the dangerous.

The great SoulDefender. He is not a doctor of bodies, but of dirty souls.

He heals the rips and tears, re-knitting us. He battles and fights, great warrior, to win back, to save, that which others would only reject, leave, rightly abandoned.

Humbled by our undeserved rescue, by our undeserved adoption, we redeemed monsters follow our great Captain!

– Abby Jones

(Inspired by the preaching on Luke 4 and 5.)

Sunday Thoughts – The Last Christmas Without You

10.20.13: Something that had been in my mind all week:

“When darkness was shattered,

The dawn of God’s grace,

And the Journey’d begun

To the first Easter Day.”

 – The Last Christmas Without You by Sixpence none the Richer

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Yes, I tend to be the kind of person who cries easily.  I’m empathic, sentimental, and nostalgic.  I easily sense the emotion of the situation and react emotionally.  You should just know that up front.

The song “The Last Christmas Without You” is about a woman who is about to celebrate her last Christmas alone before her child is born.  As she expresses how excited she is she thinks of Mary on the way to Bethlehem about to have her first child.

I love this song.  I love the concept of the Last Christmas you celebrate before your child is born.  It’s a natural sentiment and creates a beautiful Christmas song.  It is soft, sweet, and filled with excited longing – much like Christmas itself.

But.  But then there is this line in the middle of the song that just horrified me.  The modern pregnant woman is thinking about Mary, thinking of her holding her son and her Savior in her arms and speaking of it as “the journey’d begun to the first Easter Day”.  That made a sick dread fill me.  Can you imagine raising a son and then watching him die crucified on a Roman cross?  Mary did.  She was there.  From Gabriel’s visit to her son’s resurrection, Mary was there.  She clung to hope and truth and salvation, but before Easter could come there had to be a violent death.  And Mary watched it.  This is the equivalent of singing a happy loving song about your new baby and including a line about them journeying to the time they fall prey to a murderer.  It’s totally gruesome in this context. But it’s more than that because Mary was holding her son who we all knew was going to die a tortured death.  It’s flippant.

Don’t let the Roman Catholic veneration of Mary steal from you that she was a girl like any other girl who trusted the Lord, a wife, a mother, and that she watched her son be crucified for her sins and ours.  Don’t lose the emotion of what she endured.  We tend to see her, even as Protestants, with a halo over her head, forever calm and holy.  She was a woman just like the rest of us seeking to submit and trust the Lord.  And what the Lord required of her was to bear Christ, be his mother, let him go, and then watch him die.  Dear women who have lost children of your own, look to the example of Mary to encourage you to continue trusting in the Lord.  She didn’t have the Word, Systematic Theology, or the Established Church.  She lived at a time of unbelievable change when all the shadows were done away with and the light came.  And she trusted the Lord.

“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:14 ESV)

Don’t let the fun of Christmas and silliness of Easter steal from you the fact that God came to us offering peace (just dwell on that idea for a moment) and the blood that had to be shed to accomplish that peace.  Do you see how far removed we are in our culture from where these holiday’s started even as Christians?  Do you see how disrespectful the phrase ” the journey’d begun to the first Easter Day” is?  Do you see how it disregards what Christ suffered for us?  Before we can celebrate Easter, Christ had to endure a tortured death.  Never forget that.  Never ever pretend that didn’t happen.  Never be glib about the price salvation required.  Your sin, my sin required the blood of God to be wash away.  Justice still had to be served in the midst of mercy.  Christ paid justice’s price.  And not so we could have Easter!  But to bring peace between God and us.  Don’t lose that!  Don’t let fun and good holidays steal that from you.  Keep them where they belong, and remember what was required to remove the stain of sin from you.

Now….go back to listening to Christmas songs. 🙂  I think our Pastors are rubbing off on me.  So I’d like to point out that I still like this song, I just think it’s a bit odd and if you think about it too much like I probably have, it’s a bit creepy.