Dec 24, 2012

"For the World to be Set Right"

Though Glen Packiam's "How Advent Can Be Much More Than 'The Christmas Season'" was written weeks ago, the truth of his call for Believers to understand Advent and Christmas as different but complimentary elements of the holiday season is still challenging and inspiring to me.

When you journey through Advent to Christmas, you begin to see Jesus more fully. You recognize that His incarnation was the beginning of the redemption of the world and that His return is the completion of it. Advent pulls those two moments together. It overlays the joy of His arrival as a helpless babe with the hope of His appearing as conquering King. Both arrivals are anticipated in celebrating Advent. (Read more)

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From the Introduction to "Footsteps to Bethlehem," a reflective prayer and worship experience offered by WestGate Church:

It's tempting in our hurried lives to rush from one thing to the next so we don't fall behind. Tonight, we want to encourage you to fight this temptation. God has done some amazing things in people's lives when they create space in their lives and allow themselves to slow down and listen.

As far back as Genesis this journey between God and His creation begins to echo through scripture. Donald Miller writes, 'All this makes me wonder what God must have felt, arriving on the scene just after the Fall, knowing all He made was ruined, and understanding at once the sacrifice that would be required to win the hearts of His children from the grasp of the seducer.'

This time is an invitation to walk with God and experience the reality of His love for you through His son Jesus.

My most poignant moments during the hour and a half that I spent working through the stations of "Footsteps to Bethlehem" was in response to The Magnificant (Luke 1:45-55):

YHWH confounds expectation:
reason and science and will.
Fills emptiness when there seems nothing:
shrill isolation--null.
Pours void over self-sufficient
Mammon pangs starving still.
Who is rich?
Who hungers, who knows a warm ready meal;
Come to eat: refraining, stirring,

May you have a blessed and memorable Christmas. And may the anticipation of Jesus's return in remembering his first coming fill you with hope, strength, and peace. Now and forevermore. Amen.

Dec 17, 2012

Authenticity vs. Intimacy

Authenticity is the ability to accurately share what is going on in our hearts, souls and minds. It is the task of giving form and vocabulary to those things that are inside of us. Intimacy, on the other hand, is the level to which we share those things. It has to do with just how far into our hearts, souls and minds we let other people see. Authenticity is about clarity, and definition. Intimacy is about depth. And in Christlike relationships, we see both.

Are we meant to experience intimacy with everyone?

I once read an article or chapter that compared giving away one's physical virginity to being on par with giving away one's emotional virginity. Granted, they are not quite the same, and may not hold the same consequences. For example, I would suggest that opening my heart to someone in a romantic relationship and then having that relationship falter and depart, leaving me disheartened and disillusioned as I anticipate any future relationship, is not the same as having had premarital sex with that individual. My character is generally [or should be] forced to mature as I open the authenticity and intimacy of my heart to another--whether in friendship or romance. There are benefits to intimacy outside of marriage. It is essential for holistic health. Yet outside marriage, can it be given too much or too often at the risk of emotional dependence or other unhealthy consequences that direct us away from intimacy with God? Can the consequences of emotional intimacy be similar to physical intimacy, namely when considered outside of the sacrament of marriage? There are many subjective facets to considering such a question, but hopefully the heart of the question is clear.

As I understand it, the important idea is that there is a certain necessity in being mindful of how often or to what degree I readily offer my emotional sacredness to others. I must not overlook the need to be strategic, in other words. Yet how am I to navigate such a delicate boundary? The only answer that I can readily give is that such a choice--like basically every choice for a follower of Jesus--requires prayerful discernment. Prayer for wisdom, for awareness of God's ever-present presence. Prayer for an outpouring of His Spirit in the relationship: that it be empowered by His love, that it be protected by His lordship. There is so much to pray for in relationships because I am so plagued by pride or selfishness, and because the enemy, Lucifer, desires my isolation. Healthy relationship--authentic unity--is a threat to his deception and chaos. I must be mindful.

Authenticity and intimacy. By God's power, these goals and desires can and are meant to equip each of us for the uncertainty that haunts life. One day that uncertainty will end for good. Until then, we must pray. We must begin with authenticity and intimacy with YHWH who offers that promise of certainty, who models that perfect unity. Amen.