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2 Corinthians 3:3 
"You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
Wednesday, November 30 2011

Whisking over the glass-topped table in an attempt to displace a few dust mites, I should have realized that they only added to the authenticity of our Nativity scene. After all, what’s a little dust in the midst of a stable? Too late, I gasped in dismay as the hand-painted ceramic shepherd carrying a now-decapitated lamb met its demise on the cold, hard tile floor. Shattered into a dozen or so fragments, I thought woefully of passing by just the day before and thinking, “This one is my favorite: the shepherd carrying a lamb.” 

Picking up the pieces and gingerly transferring them to the kitchen counter where reconstructive surgery would be performed, I began to reflect on why this figure represents the essence of Christmas to me. A shepherd…The Good Shepherd. A lamb…The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The Lord who is my Shepherd became the sacrificial Lamb to remove the blight of my sin from the record and to wash me whiter than snow. He became like me so that I could become like Him. 

Attempting to fit the pieces back together like a 3D jigsaw puzzle, I thought of the ancient legend of a shepherd who would break a wayward sheep’s leg with his rod and then carry the broken animal over his shoulders until it healed. Formerly disobedient, the sheep would grow to know its master’s voice and to respond to the sound. Once released, it would follow in obedience when called, just as Jesus said: “My sheep know my voice.” 

When we serve communion in our church, I offer the wafers to those who come forward by saying, “This is the body of Christ, broken for you in His love.” His body was broken for my sin so that I could become whole by His love. “All we like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” This passage from Isaiah 53 which prophesied the coming of Christ sums up the Good News. As C.S. Lewis put it, “The Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God.” 

The greatest Sacrifice ever made. The greatest Gift ever given. For you, and for me. Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift.

Posted by: Jan AT 02:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Wednesday, November 16 2011

Book signings, speaking engagements for Glimpses of Hope, the completion of hospital chaplaincy training and beginning of my ministry at St. Luke’s Hospital - and word that three dear friends have been diagnosed with cancer over the past two weeks. Several others are struggling with the side effects of treatment and the ravages of the disease itself. My own need is to be so continually replenished with His living and loving Presence that I can minister out of the overflow of the love of Christ. 

Having grown accustomed to the apostle Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing”, I characteristically talk openly and often aloud to the Lord throughout the day and night in any and every situation or activity.  Early last week, however, that still small voice I have learned to recognize as His encouraged me to simply sit in a chair by the window and listen. I did not hear anything…but after a time, I became aware of a subtle swaying of my body. I watched in fascination as my torso moved back and forth, as if I were being rocked gently by an unseen hand. This cradling was completely involuntary and was accompanied by a sensation of deep peace and warmth. 

Our all-knowing and all-loving Father was holding me in His everlasting arms and comforting me in a way that no one and nothing else could. He was speaking to me without words. He was rocking me, His little child. 

This experience caused me to think about the word “rock” - both as a noun and as a verb. There are multiple references in the Bible to God as the Rock of Israel, our Rock and Redeemer, Rock and Fortress, Rock and Shield; certainly the connotation is one of tremendous immovability, strength, and dependability. Then there are the more subtle metaphoric implications: water gushing from a rock to quench the thirst of the Israelites; rocks flung from the shepherd boy David’s slingshot to slay Goliath. Jesus Himself spoke of Peter as the rock on which He would build His Church. 

But what about “rock” as a verb?  It can certainly imply something that completely pulls the rug out from under us. At any moment, life can be rocked by the tragedy of disease, divorce, death. Isaiah 8:14 says, “He will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” Yet Psalm 18, one of the many psalms of David, reads, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge.” This same Rock can cause us to fall - or lift us up. It can make us stumble, or can cradle us ever so gently. We choose. 

Every day since my precious rocking time with God, I have returned to that same chair for more. He always meets me there and I feel His Presence as I sweetly sway in his arms. It makes me want to sing that old Fanny Crosby hymn:

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, a wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock that shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand. 

Posted by: Jan AT 04:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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